Is your air conditioner turning on and off so much you can’t help but notice? Are you concerned that it might be a sign of trouble?
When you live somewhere as warm as Spring Hill, AC repair isn’t something you take lightly. Air conditioning is more than a luxury to Floridians – for many people, going without would be a considerable health risk.
Thus, it’s totally understandable that you’d have serious concerns if your system were behaving oddly – and turning on and off frequently is indeed odd. HVAC contractors refer to that behavior as short cycling. It has many causes, and none of them are good news. A central air conditioner that is short cycling should be serviced as soon as possible.
About Short Cycling
Short cycling isn’t hard to detect. Your system will shut on and off a lot. Sometimes, it can happen over just a few minutes. This has a definite and measurable impact on your air conditioner, and on the comfort of your home.
A residential air conditioning system may begin short cycling for a variety of reasons. We’ll cover some of the most common causes here in this article, and help you figure out what your next step should be.
First, make sure you are actually short cycling. The system should turn on and off from time to time. Odds are, if you’re suddenly noticing those stops and starts, it’s happening too often, but consult your owner’s manual or call your service company and make sure.
The last thing you want is to land yourself with an expensive repair bill for no reason.
Once you’ve confirmed that you’re dealing with a short cycling system, you will want to know why. Let’s dive right in.
Common Causes of Short Cycling
Oversized system. The most common cause we see for a system that short cycles is that it is not correctly sized for your home. If it were too small, you wouldn’t see short cycling – it would run basically all the time.
However, if it’s too large and powerful for your home, it will cool your home too fast. That forces the system to stop and start. That leads to a whole mess of problems, the most obvious of which is that your home isn’t as comfortable as it should be.
When a system is too powerful, it cools too quickly to properly dehumidify, and as we all know, in Spring Hill, air conditioning comfort depends quite heavily on dehumidification.
Your system will also be in danger of breaking down, and your bills will be higher than they should be because a system does not run as efficiently when it short cycles.
Thermostat issues. Another issue you may have is a faulty thermostat. It could simply be malfunctioning, in which case it will need to be replaced. However, even if it works properly, if the thermostat is placed too close to a delivery vent, the cold air washing directly across it will cause the thermostat to get a false reading of the room temperature.
Essentially, it’s being tricked into thinking the room is done cooling down, so the system shuts down. Then a few minutes later, the thermostat will correctly read the ambient temperature in the room, and turn the system back on. The solution is simple enough: move the thermostat!
Dirty or clogged air filters. Air filters may be the most common cause of problems in an air conditioning system. The irony is that it is also the easiest thing to avoid. All you have to do is clean or replace them as directed by the manufacturer.
When the filters are dirty or clogged, it makes the system work harder to recirculate air. That extra work falls on the compressor and the blower, and can cause overheating, which in turn causes a shutdown, which in turn causes short cycling.
Ice on the evaporator coils. The evaporator coils gather heat from air in your house, which causes condensation to form on them. That condensation can ice over for a number of reasons, including dirty filters, low airflow, or refrigerant issues.
You’ll want to turn your system off immediately to give it time to thaw, contact Spring Hill AC repair, and get a professional out to find the source of the problem.
Low refrigerant. Speaking of low refrigerant, in addition to causing ice to form on your evaporator, it can cause short cycling all on its own, in much the same way that clogged air filters can.
Low levels of refrigerant force the air conditioner to work harder to compensate, which stresses out various parts. Low refrigerant is rare, and almost always accompanied by a leak. Because refrigerant requires a licensed handler, the best solution is to have someone come out, locate and repair the leak, and charge your refrigerant back up to optimal levels.
It is very important to note that short cycling is not a small problem.
It is a sign of many potentially large problems. Like the check engine light in your car, it isn’t something you want to ignore. Having an annual tune-up of your central air conditioner is a good way to avoid most of these problems.
If you’re considering installing a new central air conditioner system, you can make sure to avoid improper sizing. As for existing systems, the old adage by Ben Franklin applies – even though he was talking about fire safety.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
And, don't forget, we're here if you need AC repair plus you can save $35 with any paid repair. So call us today at 352-436-1876!