During these hot summer months as your home gets too warm, you can count on you’re A/C System to kick on until it cools your home down to the temperature set on your thermostat. Once the desired temperature is reached, your A/C System “cycles” off until the thermostat calls for cooling again, which starts the cycle over.

Does your A/C System shut off before cooling your home to the desired temperature? This is an issue known in the HVAC industry as “Short Cycling.” Let’s explore the root causes and effects of Short Cycling and how you can prevent Short Cycling from costing you time and money.

What is A/C System Short Cycling?

First, let’s define Short Cycling. The average A/C System cooling cycle lasts up to 20 minutes. When you’re A/C System goes through cooling cycles too quickly, turning on and shutting off, it’s called Short Cycling. An A/C system that frequently Short Cycles can become less efficient, causing your home’s energy bills to skyrocket, Short Cycling can also lead to increased wear-and-tear on your A/C System, leading to more frequent repairs.

What are the root causes of Short Cycling?

Some of the most common root causes include:

  • An Oversized or Mis-matched A/C System:  Your A/C System should be sized with Goldilocks in mind: Not too big; Not too small; Just right. Bigger is not always better. If your A/C System is too large (too much cooling capacity-read about BTUs here), it will cool your home too quickly and will cycle off. This can lead to large temperature swings and could affect the longevity of your A/C System. Also, if your Condensing Section is too big to be paired with your Air Handler, you may also encounter Short Cycling and your efficiency will be sure to suffer.
  • Low Refrigerant Levels. When your A/C System does not have enough refrigerant, you run the risk of overheating the system and shutting down because it will struggle to cool your home. Low refrigerant levels can also lead to other problems that will cause your system’s most expensive components to fail.
  • Dirty or Clogged Air Filter. As we’ve outlined in previous blog posts, one the easiest ways for a homeowner to ensure proper A/C System operation and efficiency is to regularly change the Air Filter. As a Filter gets dirty, it increasingly blocks airflow to the Air Hander. This will ultimately cause your A/C System to overheat and shut down before the cooling cycle is complete.
  • Iced or Dirty Evaporator Coil: This occurs to A/C Systems that are not regularly inspected or maintained by a licensed A/C contractor. The evaporator coil within the Air Handler removes hot air from your house. When your A/C System can’t remove the hot air effectively, it must work much harder to do so. This can lead to the air conditioner overheating and shutting off. This could also lead to coil leaks and water damage to your home.
  • Electrical or Control issues. If your thermostat is not communicating properly with your A/C System’s electrical controls -basically, the Brain – your A/C System may be receiving improper commands that could lead to Short Cycling.

What are the root causes of Short Cycling?

Some of the most common root causes include:

How can you prevent Short Cycling?

There are three things you can do to prevent Short Cycling:

  • Ensure that your A/C System is sized properly for your home. Call AC Today to have one of our certified First Responders evaluate your A/C System for proper sizing.
  • Schedule an A/C System inspection and “tune-up” at least twice a year to ensure that your A/C System is performing at optimum levels. With an AC Today Maintenance Agreement, we take care of the tune-ups for you and you save money in the process. In addition, AC Today Maintenance Agreement customers receive priority status on all repair or installation requests.
  • Replace or Clean your Air Filter regularly. We cannot stress this enough as it is a simple and straightforward way for you, the homeowner, to keep your system running as well as it can to cool your home.

Please call AC Today or stop by our headquarters to have a cup of coffee or iced tea to speak with our Maintenance Agreement Specialists! If you suspect that your A/C System is a victim of Short Cycling, we’ll put one of our ACT First Responders on the case!