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Hometown Heating and Air Conditioning Blog

Why You Don’t Want an AC with This One Problem


Short cycling is one of the most common and also one of the most harmful problems that an air conditioning system can have. It’s both the symptom of a problem and the cause of future problems. In some cases, a few simple adjustments might be all that’s needed to repair your ac problem. However, in many cases, it will require professional repairs from a trained and experienced HVAC professional–which is what we’re here for!

Short-cycling is definitely not something you want to ignore and it should be addressed ASAP. Otherwise, you might find yourself needing to replace your air conditioner far sooner than you thought you would have to. Read on to learn more!

Facts About Short Cycling

The phrase short cycling comes from what HVAC professionals call a central AC, heat pump, or furnace system that gets stuck in the start-up cycle, turning on and off rapidly, never actually completing a full cooling cycle.

When your air conditioner is functioning as it should, it powers up the compressor when the thermostat signals that temperatures have risen above what’s set on the device. Then when that temperature is reached, the air conditioner powers down the compressor.

However, when the system is short-cycling, the compressor stops before it’s supposed to–before the end of a cooling cycle. When this occurs, the compressor is accumulating wear and tear faster than it should–essentially working harder than it should have to in order to do its job.

What Causes Short Cycling?

As we mentioned above, short cycling is the symptom of a problem going on in your air conditioner already. It could be:

  • An improperly sized air conditioner to begin with.
  • A clogged air filter blocking airflow.
  • Low refrigerant charge (level) due to leaks.
  • Air escaping out of a leaky ductwork system.
  • A miscalibrated thermostat reading incorrect temperatures.

Fortunately, one of the problems we just mentioned–a clogged air filter–is a problem you can resolve on your own. You should be changing your air filter every 1-3 months so it doesn’t cause a number of problems, including short cycling.

Unfortunately, an improperly sized air conditioner doesn’t have as simple of a solution. If an oversized air conditioner is what’s causing short cycling in the system, the only resolution is to replace it with a properly sized air conditioner. Otherwise, you’ll never feel as comfortable as you should, and your air conditioner won’t last as long as it’s meant to.

Other Problems with Short Cycling

So we mentioned how short cycling is both the symptom of a problem and the cause of future problems. But what kind of problems can short cycling cause?

  • Your AC system uses the most power when the compressor starts up. When the system gets trapped in a continual start-up process, it drains far more power.
  • As a result, the compressor accumulates wear and tear faster, as we mentioned above. This can cause your air conditioner to overheat and burn out. It’s pretty expensive to replace a burnt-out compressor–in fact, it’s often more economically beneficial to replace the whole entire AC system at that point, especially if it was an aging air conditioner to begin with.

For reliable service on your air conditioning in Livermore, CA, contact Hometown Heating & Air Conditioning today!

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