May 3, 2019

Does your HVAC system turn on, cycle for a few minutes, and then shut off… only to start up again a few minutes later?

If this describes your HVAC system’s behavior, then most likely your system is doing what HVAC technicians call “short cycling.” This frequent cycling at short intervals is an issue that puts excessive stress on your HVAC system’s components. Ultimately it’s a problem that can shorten your system’s lifespan and cost you a lot of money in repairs.

Continue reading to learn more about what causes short cycling and what can be done to fix it.

What Causes Short Cycling?

Short cycling can occur for a few different reasons. These are 4 of the most common causes.

      1. Clogged Air Filter

      Normally, air is able to pass from your home through your air filter to your HVAC system. However, when your air filter becomes too clogged with dust and debris, not enough air is able to pass through it.

      A lack of airflow makes your HVAC system work harder, which, in turn, can strain the compressor and blower. If the compressor or motor overheat, your system may short cycle–or worse–break down.

      2. Dirty or Frozen Evaporator Coil

      When it’s functioning properly, your air conditioner’s evaporator coil removes hot air from your home. If the coil has become so grimy or iced over that it can’t adequately perform this function, this means that your AC unit is going to work harder to try to remove hot air. This can cause the unit to overheat and shut off frequently.

      3. Refrigerant Leak

      Your air conditioner’s refrigerant is an essential component that allows your AC to cool your home. When there is not enough refrigerant in your air conditioner, the unit’s other components work harder than they are designed to in order to cool your home. This strain on your AC can cause it to turn on and off erratically.

      Generally speaking, if your air conditioner has too little refrigerant, that means that there’s a leak through which refrigerant is escaping, so the solution will involve fixing that leak.

      4. Air Conditioner Unit Is Too Big

      When an air conditioner is too big for the space that needs to be cooled down, it ends up cooling the space so quickly that it shuts off very shortly after turning on. This is an inefficient way for air conditioners to run and results in uneven temperatures throughout homes.

What Can Be Done to Fix Short Cycling?

The solution to short cycling will depend on what’s causing the problem to occur. If the problem is a clogged air filter, you most likely can solve the problem simply by taking out the dirty air filter and replacing it with a new one. In the case of an oversized AC unit, it will most likely be wisest to replace it. When looking for a replacement, getting the assistance of a professional HVAC technician is very important, as they will be able to help you choose a correctly sized unit based on your home’s unique cooling needs.

In the case of a refrigerant leak or a frozen or dirty evaporator coil, it’s best to contact an HVAC technician for a repair. To prevent repairs related to short cycling or numerous other problems from occurring in the future, the best thing homeowners can do is invest in regular HVAC maintenance appointments.

Is your HVAC system cycling far too frequently? Woodward Heating Air Plumbing is ready to help! We are a family owned and operated business that strives to interact with our customers in a knowledgeable and caring manner, and we are committed to surpassing industry standards, each step of the way.

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