Short Cycling: When Your AC System Goes On and Off and On

Fast Starts and Fast Stops: Not Good!
If you’ve ever noticed your AC system turning on and off more frequently than usual, it’s a problem known as “short cycling”. An air conditioner short cycling can have negative effects on the system. It could also  affect the comfort levels of your home.
Normally when your home gets too warm, your AC system will kick in to cool it back down to the desired temperature you have set on the thermostat. But when your AC system is short cycling, it will shut off before it can finish doing its job. In other words, if your air conditioner frequently shuts off before your set temperature has been reached, you have a short cycling problem. And it’s a problem that can not only increase your energy bills by reducing cooling efficiency, but can also put your AC system through excess stress and wear-and-tear.
There are several reasons why your air conditioning system short cycles. Here are some common causes:
Oversized AC system
Bigger is not better. One of the common causes of short cycling is when an AC system is improperly sized for the building that it’s cooling. So if you air conditioning unit is too large for your home, it could cool it too quickly and cause it to short cycle. Air conditioning units come in different sizes for different cooling needs. And in some cases, bigger is not always better. If your air conditioner was not sized properly for your home, you should consider replacing it.
An oversized air conditioner too powerful for your home will blast it with cool air and shut down quickly. In other words if it’s too powerful for your home, it’ll put out too much cool air too fast. If this is the case, you should (shameless plug alert) call us so we can get you a great deal on a new air conditioning system that’s right for your home.

Frozen Evaporator Coils
Ice is not nice. When your evaporator coils are covered in ice, it can also lead to short cycling. Frozen evaporator coils prevent your air conditioner from properly removing heat from your home. As a result, it will cause your AC system to short cycle. It could also lead to your system overheating and shutting off.
Frozen evaporator coils are a common result of lack of maintenance. The evaporator coils in your air conditioner remove hot air from your house. And when your AC unit can’t take out the hot air effectively, it has to work much harder to get the job done. This leads to the air conditioner overheating and shutting off.
Clogged Air Filter
Dirty is disaster. We’ve said it a million times, but something as simple as a clogged air filter can cause a plethora of problems for your air conditioning system, including short cycling. A clogged air filter restricts airflow and causes your air conditioner to have to work harder to do its job. And it can cause excess pressure on your AC system’s components such as the compressor and the blower motor, which can lead to overheating and short cycling.
You should always replace your air filters regularly to avoid short cycling and other common air conditioning and heating problems.
Low Refrigerant
Freon is gone. Another common cause of short cycling is low levels of refrigerant. Like a clogged air filter, low refrigerant can produce excess stress on your AC system and make it work harder. And it also causes overheating, which could lead to the frequent turning on and off. Low refrigerant can cause other major malfunctions as well, preventing your system from properly cooling your home. And it can lead to more costly repairs. By the way, if your AC system is still running on R-22 refrigerant, it’s being phased out. So if you need to replenish or change out the refrigerant in your AC system, call us and we’ll take care of it for you.
Electrical Issues
Wiring is firing. Short cycling also happens as a result of electrical problems. Damaged or defective wiring and control boards can prevent your AC system from turning on and off at the right times. If your AC system is experiencing any kind of electrical issues such as a damaged capacitor or contactor, don’t try to fix it yourself. Call us and we’ll check it out for you.
What You Can Do
While we don’t recommend trying to fix any electrical issues yourself, there are some things you can do if your AC system is short cycling. The first, of course, is to change out your air filter if it’s clogged. Just make sure you turn off your AC system first before replacing the air filter with a new one.
Also, shut off your AC system if your evaporator coils are frozen to thaw them out. After defrosting your evaporator coils, turn on your air conditioner and see if that solves the problem. If your evaporator coils freeze up again and your AC system continues to short cycle, it’s time to call us!
A simple AC tune-up might be all your system needs to resolve your short cycling problem. And (shameless plug alert #2) we offer a $29.95 Maintenance Special for first-time customers! So call us and let us do a tune-up on your air conditioning system. (813) 279-8213

Skip to content