Most residential houses in the United States use air conditioners to keep their rooms cool. But because of different factors, these cooling devices can malfunction. One of the problems it may show is short cycling. It happens when the AC device frequently turns on and off because of the shortened cooling cycle. Therefore, it is an AC problem that must be addressed immediately.
To fix a short cycling air conditioner, you will need to determine what is its primary cause so that you can fix the damaged components. If the evaporator coil is frozen with ice, you have to defrost it by turning off the AC unit for a time. Replacing or cleaning the clogged air filters will also solve the problems.
What Is Short-Cycling?
Short-cycling happens when the AC device turns on and off frequently before completing an entire cooling cycle. When the power is turned off, the compressor exerts more energy to turn the air conditioner again. This is one of the causes of wear and tear in AC units. Aside from that, it also leads to higher energy bills due to increased power consumption.
As we all know, purchasing new components is costly. If ignored, short cycling can lead to more damage to your AC units. If the problem worsens, you will have to buy a new air conditioner and say goodbye to your old one.
What Causes Your AC To Short Cycle?
There are various reasons why your AC unit is short-cycling. It may be because of the wrong side of the AC unit. If your air conditioner is too big, it will have difficulty running regular cycles. Malfunctioning components can also cause the cooling device to short cycle. A damaged compressor prevents an AC unit from working properly.
If you are not cleaning your air conditioner, dirt can cover and clog the air filters, causing your cooling device to experience short cycling. Ice may also freeze the evaporator coils. Without proper checking, you may fail to notice that the refrigerant is already running low, so your AC unit turns on and off frequently. It can also happen if the thermostat is incorrectly uninstalled.
Why Is AC Short-Cycling So Bad?
The damage of short cycling to your AC unit and your pocket is pretty bad. It can cause you a lot if you fail to fix it immediately. One of the consequences of short cycling is increased power consumption. This is because the component has to put the extra power to turn on the unit again whenever the AC unit turns off. Because more power is needed, you can also expect higher electric bills.
Another consequence of short cycling is that you will have to replace a part of the AC unit or you will have to buy a new one. It may cost you a lot because of the malfunctioning compressor. Purchasing a new air conditioner is expensive, especially if you don’t have enough budget.
6 Most Common Causes Of AC Short Cycling
Below are some of the causes why your AC unit is short cycling.
1. Oversized AC Unit
Many AC users misconceived that putting a bigger air conditioner unit in a small room can quickly cool. However, this only leads to a more significant problem. Overshooting the temperature frequently happens, causing the cooling device to turn off. The thermostat will also turn on once the temperature increases inside the room. When this sequence continues, short cycling happens.
2. Frozen Evaporator Coils
An evaporator coil is a crucial component of the AC unit. It is responsible for absorbing the heat inside the room. It is typically located at the furnace or inside the air handler. If the air handler is not working correctly, there will not be enough airflow heating the coil. When this happens, the evaporator coil will freeze.
A frozen evaporator coil cannot remove the heat from the room. The cooling happens not inside the room but in the AC unit. If it is severe, the AC unit will experience short cycling. Or worse, it may stop working.
3. Clogged Air Filter
An air filter traps the dirt and dust from the air to protect the critical components inside the AC unit. If not checked regularly, you may be surprised by how dirty your air filter is. It can be coated and caked with so much dust that it impedes the airflow. The resistance may lead to overheating. Once the cooling device overheats, short cycling will happen.
4. Low Refrigerant Levels
A refrigerant is a chemical that plays a vital role in the cooling process inside the AC unit. It helps in absorbing the heat and cooling down the air. When the liquid refrigerant is in the compressor, it is turned into a gas. The chemical goes to the coil to release the heat and cool down. Once it is cooled down, it evaporates when combined with the warm indoor air.
Because of the cycle, the amount of refrigerant inside the AC unit does not decrease naturally. However, the chemical may run low if there is a leakage in the air conditioner. When the refrigerant runs low, it may damage the compressor. It will soon cause short cycling to the unit.
5. Thermostat Placement
The wrong thermostat placement can also cause the AC unit to short cycle. Most of the thermostats that are facing the windows result in short cycling. If it’s summer, the thermostat will set a colder temperature inside the room, perceiving that the temperature outside is the same inside the room. The same may also happen if the thermostat is near a heat-generating vent.
When the thermostat frequently has incorrect readings, it will cause the air conditioner to short cycle.
6. Check the Compressor
The compressor of the air conditioner is like the brain of the system. It is responsible for compressing the refrigerant to absorb and release the heat from the air, providing cooler air inside the room. When the compressor fails, you can also expect the AC unit to short cycle.
Some of the reasons the compressor may fail are overheating electric failure or too much refrigerant. Other causes are not enough lubrication, incorrect sizes of suction lines, or displacement of the evaporator motor.
People Also Ask
Should I turn my AC off if it is short cycling?
If your AC unit is short cycling, you can expect it to turn on and off frequently. If you want to prevent any more damage to the components, it is recommended that you turn off the cooling device. The same applies if you are about to check some of the parts of the unit, like its compressor and air filter.
Can the thermostat cause AC to short cycle?
Yes, it can. A misplaced thermostat can cause short cycling to the AC unit. If it is installed near the window or heat-generating vent, it can affect the accuracy of the thermostat’s reading. You have to install it on the interior wall.
How do you fix a short cycle heater?
One of the most causes of a short cycle in heaters is clogged or dirty air filters. Because of the dirt, there cannot be a proper airflow to the heat exchanger. When this happens, the furnace will overheat, and the system will shut down. To prevent this situation, cleaning the air filters regularly is strongly recommended.
How do you fix a short cycling heat pump?
A heat pump may short cycle when it fails to complete a full heating cycle. To fix your heat pump, check if the thermostat is correctly placed and the compressor doesn’t have any damage. If there are problems with the components, call a technician to fix them. Also, clean the air filter. It is recommended that you also hire a technician to conduct regular maintenance.
Short cycling is a problem that you should not ignore. It may damage the components of your air conditioner. Or worse, it can cause the AC unit to stop working. You can only fix your short cycling AC unit by finding the root of the problems. When you know the cause, it is easier to troubleshoot and fix the air conditioner.