Around 100 million American homes feature air conditioning. If you have a central air conditioning unit, you know how invaluable this appliance can be on hot summer days. Even the most responsible homeowners can suffer from a serious issue with their central air conditioning unit, and chances are you don't even realize it's happening. If you've never heard of short cycling, or believe that your air conditioner is exhibiting this common issue, here is some information to help you diagnose and put an end to short cycling:
What Exactly is Short Cycling?
Your central air conditioning unit is attached to your home's thermostat, which allows you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the summer. Basically, when your air conditioner constantly turns on and off in order to keep your home at the correct temperature, this is known as short cycling.
Short cycling is a major problem for several reasons. First and foremost, when your air conditioner constantly kicks on and shuts off, it will negatively impact your home's electric bill. Additionally, the short bursts of cool air make it difficult to keep your home at the ideal temperature. Finally, all of that on-then-off cycling puts a serious strain on your unit, which will shorten its lifespan.
Common Causes and Solutions
If you believe your air conditioner is short cycling, there could be several reasons why this is occurring. Luckily, the majority of reasons are easy to diagnose and remedy. Here are a few of the most common causes of short cycling – and what you can do to help your air conditioner run more efficiently:
Too Much Isn't Always Better—One of the most common causes of short cycling is an air conditioning unit that is simply too large. Many homeowners mistakenly purchase an air conditioner that will overwhelm their home, which can make it impossible for the unit to maintain the ideal temperature. If this is the issue in your home, the best remedy is to replace the unit. Consider selling your existing unit and putting the proceeds towards a smaller air conditioner.
Check the Air Filter—Another common cause of short cycling is a clogged or damaged air filter. Your air conditioner sucks in air that then passes through the air filter, which helps remove impurities. If the filter is severely damaged or clogged, the unit will begin to overheat and automatically shut off. Check your unit's instruction manual to locate the air filter. If its clogged, replace it immediately.
Check Refrigerant Levels—Just like your car, your air conditioner relies on refrigerant to keep running. If the refrigerant is running low or there is a leak, the unit will overheat, which then leads to short cycling. If the refrigerant is low or there is a leak, it's best to leave this job to the professional. Repairing a leak can be tricky and dangerous, so don't attempt this delicate work on your own.
Don't Forget the Thermostat—Finally, the reason your air conditioner is short cycling might have nothing to do with the unit at all. A malfunctioning thermostat could be the culprit. If the thermostat doesn't function properly, the problem could be as simple as a lose wire. However, if the thermostat is older or damaged, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient model.
Short cycling is a common problem that many homeowners face. If you believe your air conditioner is short cycling, or want to prevent this issue from happening in the future, contact a professional HVAC technician right away. In addition to discovering the reason your unit is short cycling, companies like Allied Mechanical & Electrical, Inc. can help ensure your air conditioner runs smoothly for years to come.