Why Your Air Conditioning May Be Short-Cycling

Mar 26, 2021

What’s that strange noise you keep hearing? Every few minutes, you hear the distinct sound of a system shutting off and on. Could it be your air conditioner?

You may be witnessing short-cycling, a condition that’s sent many AC units to an early grave. It’s normal for your system to turn on 3-7 times per hour, but if it’s happening more frequently, you might have a problem.

What Is Short-Cycling?

When your unit keeps turning on and off, but the cycle only lasts a few minutes, it’s called short-cycling. The system can’t properly complete a cycle and it struggles to regulate the air temperature.

This may not seem like a big deal, but your wallet will thank you for fixing it. The nonstop cycling wastes energy and damages your AC. It can wear down components like:

  • The compressor
  • The fan motor
  • And more

If your AC is short-cycling, it won’t be able to keep up with the summer heat. As the snow starts to melt in Winnipeg, we need to make sure our cooling systems work efficiently.

What Causes It?

Your next question is: why is your cooling unit short-cycling? Here are a few common culprits:

A Dirty Air Filter

We often clean the filters in our dryers and dishwashers, but what about our air conditioners?

A clogged filter severely restricts airflow. It may need to be replaced to restore its functionality.

The Unit is Over/Under Sized

Sometimes, selecting the right air conditioner feels like that old fairy tale, Goldilocks.

If the unit is too small, it short-cycles. If it’s too big, it still short-cycles! You need an HVAC system that’s the right size for your home.

An oversized unit will complete the cycle too quickly. If you’re suspicious of this symptom, notice if the air is especially humid—if the cycle gets cut short, the AC can’t properly remove moisture from your home.

It’s Low on Refrigerant

Without enough of this compound, your AC will need to work that much harder to cool the air. 

Keep an eye out for the warning signs, like corrosion or stains near the unit. A refrigerant leak can seriously damage the compressor, so call for repairs ASAP.

The Thermostat is Faulty

Did you know that the location of your thermostat plays a big role in its performance? It senses the air temperature around the device and uses that data to cool your home. 

But what if the thermostat is near the oven, or in direct sunlight? It won’t get an accurate reading of the temperature throughout your home, which creates problems for your AC.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

If the evaporator coils are entirely frozen, they won’t be able to absorb heat. You can find these coils by following the refrigerant lines. 

If it’s too cold outside, the evaporator coils will freeze up. Make sure you don’t run your AC when it’s not the right season for it!

How To Repair It?

Short-cycling can drastically shorten the lifespan of your AC system, which is the last thing anyone needs just before summer. 

If you require air conditioning repair in Winnipeg, don’t hesitate to call Provincial Heating and Cooling! It’s better to fix this issue sooner than later to prevent further damage and excessive energy use.


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