Imagine this: Jane and John are both running a marathon. Jane is very efficient with her energy. She locks down a pace that she can keep throughout the entire race. John has a different approach. Instead of keeping the same pace throughout the marathon, he decides that he will frantically sprint up to Jane’s position, take a long walking rest, and then repeat the process until they cross the finish line together. Which runner sounds like they have a better plan for the race? Hopefully you agree that Jane’s approach is better, simply because it’s not as draining on her energy. Even though they’ll finish the race together, John may not feel as spritely as Jane in the end, and may even injure himself in the process.
This comparison can be paralleled to a common HVAC problem called “short cycling.” When short cycling occurs, your AC system will run through cooling cycles quicker than normal, possibly in a matter of just a few minutes (most cooling cycles tend to run around 15 minutes long). Just like John’s quick sprint/long rest approach, short cycling can use great amounts of energy due to the frequent powering on and off of your AC system. So what causes short cycling to occur anyway? Here are a few common causes for you to look out for.
When short cycling occurs, your AC system will run through cooling cycles quicker than normal.
What Causes Short Cycling?
Improper Sizing of Your Air Conditioner
Short cycling can occur when your air conditioner is too large relative to the size of your home. While the idea of having a large and powerful AC system sounds great, it can greatly impede on your comfort levels if it’s more powerful than what you actually need. The reason for that, is because the system can cool your home quickly, causing it to turn off and on very frequently. This can result in big shifts in your home temperature and comfort, while also adding more dollars to your monthly energy bill.
You May Have a Clogged Air Filter
Having a clogged air filter is never a good thing, and short cycling is only one of many negative effects of a dirty filter. A dirty air filter may cause your air conditioner to work much harder because of the reduced airflow. As a result, your system may overheat due to the amount of added stress to the unit. Definitely change out your air filter if it's visibly filthy, both for the sake of breathing in cleaner air and to ease the workload on your air conditioner.
Too Much or Too Little Refrigerant
If you have too much refrigerant in your system (overcharged), then you run the risk of refrigerant leaking into the system, possibly flooding important components. If you have too little refrigerant, your system is at risk of becoming overheated and shutting down. Both of these scenarios are no good for your system, and made lead to more major problems in the long run.
Electrical Issues With Your AC Unit
Not surprisingly, blown fuses, damaged or loose components, and other problems with your air conditioner’s electrical system may cause short cycling due to power issues. Consult with a knowledgeable HVAC technician if you feel that this may be causing issues with your system.
Your Evaporator Coil May Be Frozen
Your evaporator coil can become frozen (yes, even during the sweltering summer months), and can cause your system to short cycle. While this isn’t the only problem that a frozen evaporator coil can cause, it’s definitely a reason to have your system examined by a professional.
What Do I Need To Do If My Air Conditioner Is Short Cycling?
Take a quick look at your system, and see if you can recognize any of the above issues happening to your air conditioner. If you're lucky, you may need to simply change out a dirty air filter. We do suggest that you call an expert to handle the situation if it’s anything more than a filter problem though, because they will know how to pinpoint and diagnose the issue quickly and safely. If you are experiencing short cycling, or any other issues with your air conditioner, please give us a call today.