The Maynard Man wants you to use your air conditioner as effectively and efficiently as possible. But if your system is short-cycling, this is not going to be the case.
Short cycling serves as a symptom of a problem within your air conditioner, as well as the cause of more problems. In some cases, a simple adjustment or two from our professionals is enough to solve the problem. In many cases though, this issue requires extensive professional repairs from trained and experienced HVAC technicians.
Short-cycling is definitely one of those things that shouldn’t be ignored. Otherwise, you might find yourself buying a new air conditioner out of necessity, a lot sooner than you should have had to.
Facts about Short-Cycling
The phrase short-cycling comes from what people in our industry refer to when a central HVAC system turns on and off in rapid succession instead of going through regular cycles. What happens is that it never actually completes a full cooling cycle.
Under normal circumstances, a cooling system powers up the compressor and runs until the thermostat registers that it has met the temperature request. Then, the air conditioner powers down the compressor. But when your air conditioner is short-cycling, the compressor stops before it’s supposed to, before the end of a cooling cycle. When this occurs, the compressor essentially has to work harder to do its job.
What Is the Cause of Short-Cycling?
Like we mentioned above, short-cycling is both the symptom of a problem and the cause of more problems. When it’s a symptom, the problem is likely one of the following:
- A clogged air filter blocking airflow.
- An oversized (overpowered) or undersized (underpowered) air conditioning system.
- Low refrigerant charge due to leaks.
- Air escaping through damaged ductwork.
- A miscalibrated thermostat that is incorrectly reading the temperature.
Fortunately, the clogged air filter is an easy one for you to fix. Homeowners can and should be changing the air filter every 1-3 months during periods of use as it can cause a number of problems—not just short-cycling.
What Happens to a Short-Cycling Air Conditioner?
So, what happens to an air conditioner when it’s always short-cycling?
Well, your HVAC systems use the most power when the compressor starts up. When the system gets trapped in this perpetual start-up process, it uses (and wastes) a lot of energy.
As a result, your compressor will accumulate more wear and tear than it otherwise would have, and this can cause the unit to overheat and burn out. The cost to replace a burnt-out compressor is high, and oftentimes it makes the most sense to just replace the whole air conditioner altogether.