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Air Conditioner Turning On and Off Frequently?

If you notice your air conditioner turning on and off frequently (every few minutes), this could be a sign of a major problem, and you should address it right away. This behavior is known as short cycling. It wears out the air conditioner’s compressor, the main component of the outdoor unit, which can be very expensive to repair or replace.

Short cycling can lead to other problems as well.

  • Repeated system start-ups use more energy, thereby increasing energy costs.
  • Excessive wear-and-tear shortens the life of your air conditioner.
  • Costly repairs.
  • High humidity and/or temperature swings lead to decreased comfort.

If your air conditioner is short cycling, here are some things to check:

Dirty air filter

One common cause is a dirty air filter, which can inhibit airflow and cause a host of problems, including freezing indoor coils, which will cause the air conditioner to shut down frequently. Make sure you change the air filter on the recommended schedule for your size and type of filtration system to keep your air conditioner running smoothly.

Dirty outdoor condenser coils

When the outdoor condenser unit and coils get dirty, they don’t work efficiently, making the whole system work harder and possibly overheat. This triggers the unit to shut off and restart repeatedly. Keep your outdoor unit clean, and make sure the area around the unit is clear of debris such as leaves.

Improperly located thermostat

The location of your thermostat can cause the thermostat to misread the actual temperature and turn on and off more than necessary. Make sure your thermostat is installed on an interior wall away from windows, doors to the outside, air vents (return air or supply vents are OK), and direct sunlight.

Oversized air conditioner

If short cycling has always been an issue with your system, it is likely that your air conditioner is too big for your home. Although it seems counter-intuitive, an oversized air conditioner is not a good solution for anyone’s home. It will cool your home too quickly, without properly dehumidifying the air or providing a sufficient quantity of cooled air to maintain the cooler temperature. As a result, the air in your home heats up again more frequently. In addition to short cycling, this can lead to hot and cold spots, and the lack of efficiency will mean higher energy bills.

Low refrigerant

Low levels of refrigerant (freon or R-410a) may indicate that there is a leak in your system. Any leak should be identified and repaired right away by your HVAC professional.

Because short cycling can be an indication of a serious problem, the sooner you address it the better in order to prevent or mitigate any potential damage.

Controlling Systems is ready to help with all your air conditioning needs. Contact us today with your concerns about short cycling, or any questions regarding your heating and cooling equipment.

Bill East