The Long And Short Of Short Cycling

Air conditioning systems can experience a broad range of issues throughout their working life. One of these issues involves short cycling, a problem that could spell trouble not just for your A/C system, but also your own personal comfort. Read on to learn about short cycling and how to stop it in its tracks.

Short Cycling Defined

Air conditioner compressors operate in cycles, with each cycle lasting for roughly 10 to 20 minutes. A properly maintained A/C system will run two to three cycles per hour, giving it plenty of time to cool your home. If these cycles become shorter and much more frequent, then there's a good chance your A/C system is "short cycling." Short cycling happens when your A/C system shuts down after only a few minutes of operation, only to start up again shortly afterward.

How It Affects Your Air Conditioner

Air conditioners are designed to cope with a lot of things, but short cycling isn't one of them. The constant cycling only adds wear and tear on the compressor, degrading its performance and making it steadily unreliable in the long run. Short cycling also raises your A/C system's energy consumption, making it more expensive to keep your home cool throughout the summer.

Short cycling also poses a problem for maintaining your home's optimal comfort. Since the compressor doesn't stay on long enough, there's not enough cool air available to circulate through the ductwork. This can lead to hot spots throughout your home and lead to general discomfort, not to mention an unwanted increase in indoor humidity.

How to Mitigate Short Cycling

Short cycling can be caused by a number of problems, from a clogged A/C air filter to an A/C unit that's too large to efficiently cover your home's cooling needs. If your A/C system is currently short cycling, here are a few things you can do to put an end to the problem:

  • Invest in a new air filter. Changing your air filter at least once every 3 months will prevent excessive debris buildup and keep your A/C system from short cycling.
  • Check your A/C system for refrigerant leaks. Refrigerant leaks can lead to short cycling and other A/C issues.
  • Make sure your thermostat is properly calibrated. If your A/C system uses an older type of thermostat, then take this opportunity to upgrade to a newer programmable or smart thermostat.
  • Right-size your next A/C purchase. When you buy your next A/C system, make sure its cooling capacity matches your home's size. A Manual J load calculation can help you choose the right size A/C system for your home.

Call for professional air conditioning services if you need further assistance.