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Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc. Blog

The Dreaded Short Cycling: What It Is and Why It’s Happening

Nobody wants to find out that their air conditioner is short cycling. And for all you heat pump owners out there–this problem could affect you as well! It’s not just reserved for central AC units and other standard cooling equipment, short cycling can impact any refrigerant-based HVAC system in use today.

First of all, don’t panic. If you suspect your air conditioner or heat pump is short cycling, then right off the bat you can call our team to get things fixed. We provide effective AC repair in Cedar Rapids, IA that’s designed to quickly diagnose problems and get them alleviated at the source.

But with a short cycling air conditioner, the tricky part can be detecting that the problem exists in the first place. That’s what this blog will hopefully help us achieve.

Short Cycling: A Definition

Let’s start with the definition of short cycling. A short cycling air conditioner simply runs in short, frequent cycles. This might sound like an easy thing to detect, but you’d be surprised.

Most air conditioners run in cycles that last roughly 15-20 minutes at a time. This means that within an hour, you might have your air conditioner turn on a few times per hour. This is to conserve as much energy as possible while also keeping the temperature cool and comfortable in your home.

Don’t worry, if this seems like too few cycles or too long of a cycle, the math works out. You’d be paying more on a regular basis if it worked any differently.

So, a short cycle is one that spins up more frequently per hour, running cycles that last only a few minutes before the system shuts down. This is how you can tell the difference.

Detecting a Short Cycling Air Conditioner

It’s a good idea to stay vigilant of your air conditioning system to see if it’s running cycles that are too short. You can time them or just think about how many times it’s cycled in an hour. If it feels like your air conditioner is turning on 5 times an hour instead of just 2-3, then you might be dealing with a short cycling system.

These problems can be bad for a number of different reasons. This ruins the efficiency of your air conditioner by causing it to run more frequently and in more energy-intensive cycles than it would otherwise. It also stresses out various components of your system which can lead to a quick degradation of various necessary components. Over all, you’ll pay a lot of money to keep using or to repair a short cycling air conditioner.

The Causes of Short Cycling

Why does short cycling happen? There can be a number of different reasons why this can occur, but some common causes include a clogged air filter, leaking refrigerant, and an overheating compressor. These can cause the system to shut down abruptly and turn on a few minutes later, cycling on and off too quickly.

A Botched Installation

Another common reason for a short cycling air conditioner is a botched installation. If your AC is too large for your home, it might cool it too quickly and shut down abruptly. This is a short cycle and will often lead to all the negative consequences we mentioned before, but it can only be fixed with a system replacement. Call our team today to get this problem addressed!

At Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc., your comfort is our promise! To set up an appointment in the Cedar Rapids area, give us a call at the number above, email or schedule an appointment online. 

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