You may never have heard the term short-cycling before, but it may be occurring in your house right now. It’s a problem that air conditioning systems as well as heat pumps often encounter. It’s not only a serious malfunction that creates threats to your comfort and wallet, it can indicate a range of underlying causes. To fix short cycling, you will probably need professional AC repair in West Chester, PA.
We’ll examine what short-cycling is, why it’s a problem, and
what may cause it.
What Is It?
Short-cycling is when an AC or other refrigerant-based
system fails to complete its full cooling cycle and shuts down early. It then
turns back on a short time later, only to again shut off the cooling cycle prematurely.
The cooling cycle for air conditioners is normally at least 15 minutes, often
longer. Running less than 10 minutes is a sign the system is short-cycling.
Why Is It a Problem?
Air conditioners are designed to have longer cycles, and
when they begin to start and stop repeatedly over short periods of time, it
puts immense wear on their components that they weren’t built for. The start-up
cycle for an air conditioner is when the system uses the most power as it
overcomes resistance to start the compressor. When an AC is doing this repeatedly
over a short time, it both drains huge amounts of power and increases the work
strain put on the system. A short-cycling air conditioner is at a higher risk
of a malfunction or full breakdown, and it will also lose years off its service
Short-cycling also affects comfort in a home. If an AC doesn’t
stay on long enough, it won’t provide even cooling around the house, leaving hot
spots in some rooms.
What Causes It?
Many different troubles in an air conditioning system may
lead to short-cycling. It’s one of the most common warning signs of other
repair issues in the AC, including:
- Leaking refrigerant
- A clogged air filter
- Frozen evaporator coils
- Dirty condenser coils
- An oversized air conditioner
- An air conditioner that’s too old
For most of these problems, you’ll need the assistance of an
HVAC professional to repair the air conditioner. First check for the clogged
filter and put in a new one. This may stop the short-cycling, but we still recommend
calling technicians to inspect the system for possible damage from
In the case of an oversized air conditioner, this is a
problem from the initial installation—a common mistake that amateur installers
make. The only repair for this is to call on certified professionals to replace
the air conditioner with one that is accurately sized for your home’s cooling
If you have an air conditioner that is more than 15 years
old, short-cycling is a warning sign the compressor is coming to the end of its
service life, as is the air conditioner. Since 15 years is usually the upper
limit for estimated AC lifespans, we recommend replacing any system that’s
older than this. And short-cycling means it is definitely time to call for a
Call the Signature Service You Can Trust! Signature HVAC offers service in hours, not days—we’re here for your AC repairs.