When it's hot outside, you likely look forward to returning to your cool, air conditioned home. This can be a problem if the AC is malfunctioning. One common problem is short cycling.
What Is Short Cycling?
Short cycling is when the AC pops on, runs for a minute or two, and then turns back off without fully cooling the home. This process is then repeated over and over. It's a problem because it puts undo stress on the AC unit, wastes energy, and leads to higher bills. Plus, with short cycling, your home never reaches a comfortable temperature.
Is There a Simple Solution?
Sometimes there is a simple solution. Many short cycling issues are caused by the delay of one easy maintenance task — changing the air filter. When too much dirt collects on an air filter it becomes clogged. Air can no longer flow through it, which overloads the system and causes it to shut down. As soon as the motor cools, the system comes back on. This can happen quite rapidly, thus leading to short cycling. Simply swap out the old filter for a clean one to solve the problem.
Can Size Affect Short Cycling?
The size of your AC can be another reason why the system is short cycling. The issue isn't usually with a too small unit, but when the unit is too large for your home. Bigger isn't always better!
While it is true that a larger unit will cool the house more quickly, this quick cooling will cause the AC to shut down before it completes a full cycle. This wears down the compressor motor in the AC more quickly, which makes the unit more prone to breaking down. Further, this over-cooling also makes it more likely that the AC evaporator coils will freeze up, which increases short cycling and it hard on the AC. Install an AC sized to your home's square footage to avoid this issue.
Are There Other Issues That Affect Short Cycling?
Another common cause of short cycling is a refrigerant leak. This may be the case if the AC keeps popping on and off but it never seems to cool the house sufficiently. AC refrigerant is colorless and odorless, plus it tends to evaporate quickly so you may never actually see any leaked fluid. You may hear a hissing sound from the AC when the refrigerant first leaks out, but the most common sign is poor cooling and short cycling. Your AC tech can check and refresh refrigerant levels, if necessary.
If your AC is short cycling, don't delay. Contact an AC repair service to solve the problem. For more information on AC repair and AC maintenance, contact a local HVAC contractor.