How to Tell If Your AC Is Short Cycling? | Ravinia Plumbing
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How to Tell If Your AC Is Short Cycling

  • Categories: Cooling
  • Date: July 16, 2021
How to Tell If Your AC Is Short Cycling

Summers in Lincolnshire, IL and Chicago can be hot and humid, which is why you need a reliable air conditioning system to provide relief during the dog days of summer. But, unfortunately, like all appliances and electrical equipment, air conditioners do tend to break down from time to time, leaving you to sweat it out until a repair can be made.

One common AC issue we see in homes in Chicago’s North Shore and Chicago’s Northwest suburbs is short cycling, which can cause a number of issues to your AC unit as well as your family’s comfort.

In our most recent blog, the heating and cooling experts at Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric discuss what air conditioner short cycling is, common signs of short cycling and how to resolve the issue. For all your HVAC system needs, don’t hesitate to contact Ravinia Plumbing today.

What is AC Short Cycling?

Short cycling occurs when an air conditioning system starts a cooling cycle, shuts down prematurely and then starts back up a short time later. In other words, it’s turning on and off too rapidly without fully completing a cycle.

If your air conditioner is short cycling, you’ll need to contact a heating and cooling professional as soon as possible, as this issue can lead to costly repairs and even premature air conditioning system replacement. However, in some cases, the solution can be as simple as changing a dirty air filter, which we’ll explain in more detail below.

When an air conditioner is short cycling, it’s using far more energy than it typically would, which can lead to higher energy bills and increased wear and tear on the compressor. Compressor wear and tear can cause the unit to overheat and, ultimately, burn out. Replacing a compressor is expensive and might even make buying a new, more energy-efficient cooling system the better choice, both financially and for your family’s comfort.

Common Causes of Short Cycling

Dirty air filters

Something as simple as a dirty or clogged HVAC air filter can cause your air conditioner to short cycle. When air is restricted, the air conditioner can freeze up, further restricting airflow and  damaging the system.

The first step you should take if your AC system is short cycling is to check its air filter. If it’s dirty and clogged, replace it with a new one. Many air filters need to be replaced every month, but different variables affect the replacement interval. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to learn the correct replacement interval.

An improperly sized air conditioner

Air conditioners which are too small or too big for a home both cause problems. An oversized air conditioner is too powerful and will quickly cool your home before turning off, leading to premature wear and tear, higher energy bills, and short cycling. An undersized AC unit, meanwhile, struggles to meet a home’s cooling demands and must work harder to efficiently cool a home, which also leads to higher energy bills and excess stress on the system. If your AC is short cycling because of an incorrectly sized system, the only way to fix it is with a new air conditioner.

Frozen evaporator coils

Ice buildup on the evaporator coils can also lead to a short-cycling air conditioning system. This problem is typically caused by refrigerant issues or airflow problems. The evaporator coils remove heat from a home, and when they’re restricted, the refrigerant inside the coils can become colder, leading to the formation of ice, causing short cycling. If you notice ice on the coils, turn the air conditioning unit off to allow the ice to melt. You can either use a hairdryer or run the system’s fan.

Low refrigerant levels

When refrigerant levels drop because of a leak, the air conditioning system is unable to efficiently absorb and transfer heat out of the home, which can cause the compressor to overheat and lead to short cycling problems.

Most refrigerant leaks are undetectable without the use of specialized equipment. You’ll need to contact a reputable HVAC contractor to find and fix a leak.

Thermostat issues

Issues with the thermostat and its placement within your home can also lead to air conditioning short cycling. If the thermostat is installed in a place near heat-generating appliances or in direct sunlight, it can negatively affect your thermostat, causing it to turn on or off at the incorrect times. A malfunctioning thermostat can also lead to short cycling issues.

Contact Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric for Air Conditioning Repair Services

Don’t let a short-cycling air conditioner spoil your summer with comfort issues and high energy bills. Trust the expert heating and cooling technicians at Ravinia Plumbing for all your home’s HVAC repair needs in your Chicago North Shore or Chicago Northwest suburbs home. Contact Ravinia Plumbing today to schedule an appointment.

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