Why Is My Air Conditioner Running In Short Bursts?


Homeowners depend on air conditioning to feel comfortable during the hot summer months. Sensors in the unit detect if the ambient temperature is higher than the thermostat settings. If it is, the air conditioner starts the cooling cycle until the set temperature is reached. A cooling cycle should occur slowly and steadily. However, if your air conditioner runs in short bursts, your air conditioner is dealing with a short cycling issue. This problem can result in several issues unless you address it right away. Keep reading to learn the causes and effects of AC short cycling and what can be done to prevent it.

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Common Causes Of Air Conditioner Short Cycling

Here are several common reasons for AC short cycling:

Oversized Air Conditioning Unit

Having a bigger air conditioner isn’t always better. An HVAC unit that’s too powerful will push high amounts of cold air throughout your home, reaching the thermostat setting quickly and causing it to shut down immediately. Unfortunately, a short cycle cannot properly reduce indoor humidity. The unit will not run long enough to tackle this concern. It also results in a large amount of energy consumption. An oversized air conditioner also results in inconsistent cooling between different areas of the home.

Related Article: How Does An Air Conditioner Tune-Up Save Me Money?

Clogged HVAC Air Filters

removing dirty HVAC filter for home central air conditioning system

Air filters need to be checked constantly and replaced regularly. You should never let it get too dirty as it will block the airflow that the system needs. As a result, the unit works harder to compensate for the reduced airflow. This issue stresses out the compressor and blower until they overheat. This leads to short cycling and may eventually cause the system to break down.

Habitually replace the filters as recommended in the equipment manual. However, it is crucial to remember that some homes must have their filters replaced more frequently. A general rule is to check the filter once a month and change it as needed.

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Frozen Evaporator Coils

frozen air conditioner in summer

Evaporator coils are tasked with absorbing the heat inside the house. A unit with frozen or dirty coils cannot work properly. A system that exhibits this issue will inevitably lead to overheating, causing the system to shut off automatically. It does this as a way to prevent it from getting damaged further before reaching the set temperature.

Different mechanical problems can cause this. Do not let the short cycling problem persist. Homeowners should shut down the air conditioner completely to let the ice thaw. Call an HVAC professional to help you if the coil freezes again.

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Low Air Conditioner Refrigerant Levels

image of hvac contractor performing refrigerant refill on air conditioner

The refrigerant is the air conditioner‘s lifeblood. There should be a sufficient amount of coolant in the system to circulate and transfer heat from the inside of the home to the outside. A leak can deplete the refrigerant, forcing the air conditioning unit to work harder than necessary to cool your home. As a result, the components are stressed out until short cycling happens as a way to compensate.

HVAC contractors can examine the refrigerant levels and determine if there’s a leak or not. They can find the source of the leak and repair it right away. They can also add more refrigerant to the system so that it works normally again.

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Air Conditioner Electrical Issues

Sometimes, faulty wiring and control boards can cause a short cycling air conditioner. The air conditioner may not be getting sufficient power due to electrical issues. It may try to start but falter. This is a complicated and dangerous issue for homeowners to resolve on their own. It is best to hire HVAC technicians to check the air conditioner and assess if this is causing short cycling. They can resolve any wiring and control board issues if needed.

Related Article: What Does An Air Conditioner’s SEER Rating Mean?

Poor Thermostat Placement

image of homeowner adjusting thermostat that controls hvac system

Short cycling may also happen if the thermostat is placed in an incorrect location in your home. Check if it is located close to a window where direct sunlight streams through or another heat source. The room may be quite cool, but the sensors may be tricked into detecting that the space is hot because it gets a lot of sun. It will go into action and shut off promptly. The thermostat may need to be shielded or placed in a more fitting spot for this to stop. 

Reasons To Avoid Air Conditioner Short Cycling

Listed below are several reasons to prevent air conditioner short cycling.

AC Equipment Damage

Air conditioners aren’t designed to switch on and off in short bursts. This significantly stresses the components of the system, leading to faster wear and tear. This can cause equipment breakdown over time. Homeowners will have to replace components prematurely. The system will also suffer from a diminished lifespan.

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Soaring Energy Bill

image of homeowner paying bills and air conditioning costs

Short cycling causes the air conditioner to work harder than it should. It also uses more energy than normal. The system already consumes a significant amount of energy when operating normally, so this inefficiency issue is unwelcome. Homeowners may notice a spike in their energy expenses. Do not neglect this air conditioning problem, as it can be expensive.

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Inconsistent Room Temperatures

Rooms in your home may vary in temperature. You may feel that some rooms are quite warm while others are cold. Short bursts mean the air cannot circulate correctly. This can make it difficult for occupants who need to study or work in warm spots during the summer.

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Short cycling is a big air conditioning problem. It causes significant harm to the system and can be expensive to repair. Avoid it from happening at the onset by hiring a reliable HVAC technician who can choose the right air conditioner size and install the system properly. Book annual maintenance as this will also help determine any potential issues quickly so they can be dealt with as soon as possible. Refrigerant leaks, dirty coils, and electrical issues can be resolved before they trigger short cycling.

Call Columbus Energies For Your Air Conditioning Requirements

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For quality heating and cooling services in Southeastern Massachusetts and the Rhode Island region, call Columbus Energies. Our team of experts consists of the best professionally certified technicians who can conduct excellent HVAC services, like air conditioner tune-ups, boiler replacements, mini-split repairs, and more. All our techs have years of experience and extensive knowledge to service your HVAC system promptly and correctly.

Columbus Energies offer the region’s most affordable and superior heating and cooling service costs. The maintenance services we provide can improve comfort, enhance indoor air quality, increase energy efficiency, and reduce home cooling bills. If you need an HVAC repair or replacement system, we can suggest the best home solution while staying within your budget. To schedule an air conditioner tune-up or service appointment, call Columbus Energies today. All our work is guaranteed to ensure your satisfaction. Call now and receive a free, in-home estimate.

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