AC Short Cycling: Causes, Repair and Prevention Tips

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It is frustrating when you're trying to cool off, but your air conditioner turns off abruptly, only to restart back up again. An air conditioner turning on and off in a single cooling cycle is short cycling, which can be caused by a number of reasons.

An air conditioner short cycling indicates a problem with your unit. Short cycling often happens when the air conditioner is dusty, clogged, or oversized for your room. Short cycling can also cause issues with your unit, as allowing the air conditioning system to short cycle leads to wear and tear, as well as higher energy bills.

Reason Description Solution
Oversized Air Conditioner The air conditioner cools the room too fast, causing the unit to short cycle. Downsize to a smaller AC unit, or place the existing AC unit in a larger room.
Clogged Air Filter The blocked air filter does not allow air to properly circulate around the unit, causing an imbalance in temperatures in and around the unit. Clean the air filter with soap and water every two weeks.
Refrigerant Leaks/Low Refrigerant Levels Air conditioner short cycles as there is inadequate coolant in the refrigeration lines. Top up the refrigerant, and have a professional technician find and fix the leak.
Frozen Evaporator Coil Dust and debris formed an insulation layer around the evaporator coil, causing the coils to freeze. Let the ice thaw, then use a can of compressed air to clear the dust away from the evaporator coils.
Faulty Thermostat Thermostat temperature reading is off, sending mixed signals to the air conditioning unit. Change the batteries of the thermostat to see if that solves the issue. Else, replace the thermostat unit.

5 Reasons for AC Short Cycling Problems

Reason #1 Oversized Air Conditioner

There is a common misconception about air conditioners. The larger and more powerful the unit does not mean a more efficient cooling cycle as most people assume. In fact, an oversized unit actually causes air conditioner short cycling issues as the unit cools the room quickly, shutting down when the room has been cooled to the set temperature on the thermostat.

In this case, it is a better idea to size down rather than fix your air conditioner since there are no broken or faulty parts. The issue is with the size of the unit, so it is best to replace the unit with one of a more appropriate cooling capacity, or place the large unit in a bigger room to cool a larger area properly.

Reason #2 Clogged Air Filter

A dirty air filter restricts the airflow in the air conditioner, which can cause the unit to freeze up or overheat. When the air conditioner freezes or overheats, it can lead to short cycling issues. A deep clean of the air filter should fix the issue.

Reason #3 Refrigerant Leaks/Low Refrigerant Levels

Your AC unit runs on refrigerant - a coolant that turns warm air into cool air during a full cooling cycle. Short cycling happens when the AC unit is short of refrigerant due to a leak, where the AC system cannot properly function without the coolant. You will need to have a Luce Aircon professional HVAC technician top up the refrigerant and fix the leak.

Reason #4 Frozen Evaporator Coil

A frozen evaporator coil traps the cold air within the unit, and the air conditioning system cannot remove the warm air from your room. The result is a short cycle as the air conditioner malfunctions. Frozen evaporator coils are often caused by a layer of dust and debris that cover the coils, so keep these coils clean with a can of compressed air for good measure.

Reason #5 Faulty Thermostat

Sometimes, the issue isn't with the air conditioning unit, but with the thermostat! A faulty thermostat may be reading the room temperature incorrectly, causing short cycling. Always check the batteries of your thermostat, and replace batteries as needed.

4 Tips to Prevent Short Cycling Problems

Tip #1 Install a Suitably-sized Air Conditioner

Bigger isn't always better, and that's certainly true for air conditioners. Go for an appropriately-sized air conditioner for your room instead of a larger one, and you should prevent the AC from short cycling. Our Luce Aircon technicians can gladly assist you in choosing a brand and model that fits your room.

Tip #2 Clean Your Air Filters Regularly

clean your air filters once every two weeks for the best care. Doing so will prevent dust buildup, and allow for proper air circulation around your air conditioning unit, which will prevent the unit from short cycling.

Tip #3 Have an Air Conditioner Maintenance Routine

Have your air conditioning system checked regularly for proper maintenance. Our professional technicians here at Luce Aircon are well-versed in their craft, and they can help you maintain the good condition of your unit with an annual checkup! With a maintenance routine, you'll catch issues with your air conditioning unit before they turn into short cycling problems.

Tip #4 Have Your Air Conditioner Cleaned

Besides cleaning your air filter, have your AC system professionally cleaned twice a year to prevent short cycling. Our professional cleaning services will get your AC clean without damaging the unit, so you can enjoy the cool air it provides longer. Only an HVAC professional can properly clean the internal parts of the unit, so leave the cleaning to us!

Maintain Your AC

Maintenance is the key to preventing issues with your unit, especially short cycling. Short cycling happens when the air conditioner is improperly cleaned or maintained, which causes damages to your AC unit in the long run.

Trust in Luce Aircon services to keep your air conditioner up and running for years to come! Our experienced professionals will get your air conditioner to tip top condition! We also provide you with quality cleaning services that will ensure every part of your AC is deep cleaned the right way.

Check out our article on ac smells musty!

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