Your air conditioner operates on a cycle. When the thermostat indicates that the temperature in your home has gotten a little too high, the compressor comes on to circulate refrigerant through the system and provide cooling.

When the temperature drops enough, the compressor shuts down and waits until the next signal to start up. This cycle should begin about every fifteen minutes or so.

But sometimes an air conditioner begins starting and stopping much more frequently. This is called short cycling, and it’s a big warning sign. Here’s why.

Your AC Unit’s Compressor

The compressor is housed in the outdoor unit or condenser of your AC system. It provides the pressure that gets the refrigerant flowing. This is the single most expensive and most critical component of the air conditioner.

If it fails, it often means it’s time to get a whole new air conditioner. Like the transmission in your car, which might cost more to replace than the rest of the car is worth if it’s not quite new, replacement may be possible, but it would leave you heavily invested in an air conditioner that won’t last many more years anyway.

Anything you can do to keep your compressor happy will extend the life of your AC system. Short cycling is very hard on the compressor because it was not designed to continually start and stop.

Your Utility Bills

The startup is the part of the air conditioner’s cycle that uses the most energy. Having that happen every two to five minutes rather than every fifteen to twenty means that a great deal of extra electricity is being used to accomplish it.

That translates to a much higher electric bill, and not only will you not be getting anything more for that money, but you will likely be getting less cooling power. The shortness of the cycles means that the cooling process is not able to be completed, and your home will probably be warmer than you’d like or have hot pockets where the cool air isn’t reaching.

Why Short Cycling Happens

We’ve gone over the problems that short cycling can cause. But the reality is, short cycling is a symptom of something else that’s going wrong. It would be lovely to be able to give a clear and simple reason for it, but there are a variety of things that can cause this symptom.

It may be that something is overheating, such as the fan motor. This could be the result of too much dust in the air conditioner or an electrical problem in the motor.

When the limit switch detects the heat, it shuts down the cycle, but after a brief moment of cooling, it starts up again. The limit switch may also be triggered because of lack of airflow allowing too much heat to build up in the system.

Refrigerant leaks, dirty evaporator coils, damaged ductwork, a miscalibrated thermostat, or even a fault in the limit switch itself could also be causing the short cycling.

Prompt Repairs Can Save Your Compressor

If you’re concerned about AC short cycling in San Antonio, only a qualified AC technician will be able to diagnose the true issue and get it repaired. Remember, it’s important to prevent wear and tear of the compressor, so don’t delay in getting your air conditioner the help it needs.

Our professionals are ready to take care of you when you reach out. Contact Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating today to schedule an appointment with our professionals.

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