Are you noticing your air conditioner turning on and off every few minutes? If it’s not reaching the set temperature before turning off, you’re likely dealing with your air conditioner short cycling. Let’s discuss what short cycling is and what can cause this issue to happen.

What is Short Cycling?

Short cycling is a term used when an air conditioning unit isn’t completing a full cooling cycle. A full cooling cycle occurs from the time the unit kicks on to the time the temperature on your thermostat is reached and kicks off again. On hot days, the full cycle may look like 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, and so on. On cooler days, the breaks will be longer. However, the AC short cycling disrupts this pattern.

When the system is short cycling, the compressor stops prematurely, before the end of a cooling cycle. When this happens, the compressor is working harder than it should have to in order to do its job. This can not only cause you to feel uncomfortable in your home as your AC isn’t doing its job, but it can also drive up your energy bills and decrease your system’s longevity.

What Causes Air Conditioner Short Cycling

There are quite a few things that can cause your AC to short cycle, but here are a few of the most common reasons.

Clogged Air Filters

If you read our blog posts often, you probably have noticed clogged air filters can cause quite a few issues with your HVAC system. And it makes sense – your system requires airflow to function properly, so when that is restricted, issues arise quickly. In this case, clogged air filters can also cause air conditioner short cycling.

When your air filters are clogged, heat can’t escape the HVAC system and cool air can’t get in, tricking the system into thinking it’s hotter indoors than it really is. Therefore, the air conditioner turns on more without successfully cooling the home. Make sure to change your filters every three months or more frequently if you have pets or live in a dry climate.

Wrong Sized Unit

It’s a common misconception that the bigger an air conditioner is, the more cooling it should provide. However, the unit size needs to be proportional to your home’s square footage. If your air conditioner is too large for your home, you’re going to have just as many problems as one that’s too small.

Too large of an AC will turn on and cool your home. However, when running at its normal speed, it’s unable to keep going without overshooting the temperature. So it will shut itself off. As the temperature in your home rises, the thermostat turns the system on. This cycle will repeat over and over, with the AC turning itself on and off in quick sequence.

Unfortunately, there’s no repair or quick fix for this. If your unit is too large, you’ll need to replace your air conditioner unit with one of the proper size.

Low Refrigerant

Another reason for air conditioner short cycling is low refrigerant levels. Refrigerant is the chemical that cycles through your air conditioning system, removing heat from inside the house and releasing it outside. Under typical conditioners, your AC doesn’t need “new” refrigerant. It exists in a closed loop and doesn’t need to be topped off or replaced. But if there is a refrigerant leak, your AC won’t work properly. It will have to work harder to keep up with the temperature demands and start to short-cycle in an attempt to meet those demands.

In this case, it’s important to contact a professional to add more refrigerant and address the cause of the reduced amount.

Miscalibrated Thermostat

A miscalibrated thermostat will incorrectly gauge the temperature in your home, causing the AC to turn on and off at incorrect times. In this case, the thermostat is reading the incorrect temperature and will incorrectly tell the unit that the temperature was reached or not, causing the system to cycle on and off in an attempt to reach the set “temperature.”

A miscalibrated thermostat puts a lot of strain on the HVAC system and can be a difficult problem to notice, so getting a professional in to take a look will ensure you catch the issue quickly.

Leaking Air Ducts

Another trickier problem to notice is leaking air ducts. Leaking ducts will pull air inside from the outside, your attic, and inside your walls. This leads to your air conditioner system working harder to try and regulate the indoor temperature. Leaking ductwork can also result in a drastic increase in your energy bills. If your AC is short cycling and you notice a spike in your energy bill, get a technician to come out and inspect your ductwork to see if repairs are needed.

Comfort World logo on a white background.

Whether it’s air conditioner short cycling or an unknown HVAC issue causing problems in your home, our team can handle it!

Need AC Repairs? Call Comfort World Air Conditioning and Heating

Whether it’s air conditioner short cycling or an unknown HVAC issue causing problems in your home, our team can handle it! We will get to the bottom of the problem and provide repairs to your air conditioner as soon as possible. We’ve been bringing comfort to the valley for over 30 years, so you can count on us to get the job done right. Our highly trained technicians in Scottsdale, Arizona, want to bring a little more comfort to your world!

Book your appointment today!