How Can You Distinguish Short Cycling From Normal Operation?


If you're trying to diagnose a problem with your air conditioner, you may be finding many terms that are unfamiliar or unclear. HVAC repair is a complex field, and central air conditioning systems have numerous parts that need to function correctly as a whole to keep your house cool. To figure out what may be happening with your system, you'll need to learn a bit about these terms and components.

One common symptom you may see referenced is "short cycling." Cycling refers to your air conditioner's normal behavior of running for a while and then shutting down again. If your air conditioner is short cycling, it means these cycles are much faster than they should be. How can you distinguish this from normal behavior, and what does it mean for your system? Keep reading to find out.

Short Cycling: Not So Clear Cut

There's no specific amount of time that your air conditioner should run. In most cases, your air conditioner will run as long as your thermostat requests cooling, which means it will run until the temperature reaches your setpoint. After this point, the compressor will shut down until the temperature rises and the thermostat requests cooling again.

The time this takes can vary based on the outside temperatures, the size of your system, and any other maintenance issues. However, your AC generally shouldn't run continuously, and it's normal for a residential AC system to only operate once or twice per hour. Likewise, your air conditioner shouldn't turn on and then rapidly shut off. If it does, it may be short cycling.

Unfortunately, there's no clear-cut definition for short cycling. If your AC turns on for a few seconds and then turns off, that's certainly an example of short cycling. On the other hand, you may still have a problem if your AC runs for a few minutes before shutting off. A good rule of thumb is to look at your thermostat. If your system shuts down without reaching your setpoint, it's probably short cycling.

Why Should You Care and What Should You Do?

Short cycling significantly impacts your system's performance, potentially leading to inefficient cooling or even preventing the system from effectively cooling your home at all. The compressor will also wear more quickly when it turns on and off rapidly, shortening its lifespan and leading to expensive repairs. Even if your home stays relatively comfortable, it's never a good idea to ignore a short cycling condition.

This condition can also have many underlying causes. Short cycling can result from a failing thermostat, problems with your refrigerant lines, or even a dirty filter or clogged condenser coils. Since so many different issues can cause your system to short cycle, it's often a good idea to leave this repair to the professionals.

For more information, contact an air conditioning repair service. 


3 December 2021

Cool off Your AC Bill

Every summer, I agonized over energy bills that would shoot into the stratosphere as a result of my efforts to keep cool in the heat. Every time I turned the temperature down, my bills increased. This summer, I decided to take some of the control over my energy bill back. I installed reflective film on my windows that reduced the amount of light and heat coming into the house. I started serving more cold meals or asking my husband to barbecue outside, so that my air conditioner didn't have to compete with the hot stove, and I started doing laundry at night to reduce appliance heat in the house at peak times. I also had ceiling fans installed. So far, the difference in my bill has been tremendous. This blog is a way for me to explore other ways to reduce energy drain during the summer months.