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Short Cycling: This Summer’s Big AC Problem to Be Vigilant Of

As summer temperatures soar, our air conditioners (AC) become our saving graces. But what happens when your AC starts acting strange, turning on and off rapidly without ever reaching that cool, refreshing temperature you crave? This, dear reader, is short cycling, and it can spell big trouble for your AC unit, and your wallet, if left unchecked. Just make sure you schedule AC repair in Crystal Springs when needed.

What Is Short Cycling?

During a normal cooling cycle, your AC compressor turns on and pumps refrigerant through the system, absorbing heat from the air indoors. This cool air is then circulated throughout your home. Once the desired temperature is reached, the compressor shuts off and the cycle restarts when the temperature rises again.

Short cycling disrupts this natural rhythm. The compressor kicks on, runs for a brief period (less than 10 minutes typically), and then shuts off prematurely before reaching the set temperature. This rapid on-and-off pattern repeats itself constantly, leaving your home feeling uncomfortably warm and putting a strain on your AC unit.

Why Is Short Cycling a Problem?

There are several reasons why short cycling is a serious issue:

  • Reduced Efficiency: An AC that short cycles works harder and more frequently to achieve the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and higher electricity bills.
  • Increased Wear and Tear: The constant on-and-off cycles put a significant strain on the compressor, which is the heart of your AC system. This can lead to premature component failure and costly repairs down the line.
  • Uneven Cooling: Short cycling prevents your AC from running long enough to properly dehumidify the air. This results in uneven cooling, with pockets of warm air persisting even when the thermostat reading suggests otherwise.

What Causes Short Cycling?

Several culprits can be behind your AC’s short cycling behavior. Here are some of the most common:

  • Dirty Air Filter: A clogged air filter restricts airflow, making it harder for the evaporator coil to absorb heat. This tricks the system into thinking it’s cooler than it actually is, causing the compressor to shut off prematurely. Regularly cleaning or replacing your air filter is crucial for optimal AC performance.
  • Low Refrigerant Levels: Refrigerant is the lifeblood of any AC system. Low refrigerant levels reduce the system’s ability to absorb heat, leading to short cycling. Leaks or improper installation can cause refrigerant depletion. If you suspect low refrigerant, call a qualified HVAC technician for diagnosis and repair.
  • Frozen Coils: Dirty evaporator coils or low refrigerant levels can cause ice buildup on the coils. This restricts airflow and triggers the safety mechanisms to shut down the compressor before it sustains damage. Regular maintenance and addressing low refrigerant issues can help prevent frozen coils.
  • Incorrect Thermostat Setting: An improperly set thermostat can contribute to short cycling. Ensure your thermostat is set to “cool” and the desired temperature is realistic for the current outdoor conditions. Avoid setting the thermostat too low expecting faster cooling – it will only strain the AC.
  • Oversized AC Unit: An AC unit that’s too big for your home can cool the space too quickly, leading to short cycling. A properly sized AC unit efficiently maintains the desired temperature without excessive on-and-off cycles.

Schedule AC repair or replacement with our excellent technicians at AirSouth Cooling and Heating.

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