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How To Spot And Take Care Of AC Short Cycling Problems

Does it seem that your air conditioner is turning itself on and off frequently? Then you may have a problem that could take a toll on its well-being over time. Short cycling is a relatively common problem among many air conditioning systems and it's one that can prevent your home from receiving the comfort it deserves.

The following offers an explanation of how short cycling problems can affect your air conditioner, as well as ways you can combat this problem and even prevent it from occurring in the future.

Issues That Lead to Short Cycling

Low refrigerant levels are the most common cause of short cycling issues. A loss of refrigerant charge usually leads to a low-pressure condition within the refrigeration system, which in turn triggers the air conditioner's low-pressure switch. This switch usually disables the compressor, preventing it from being damaged due to improper refrigerant levels. However, this process could also cause the unit to stop and restart constantly, causing accelerated wear and tear on the compressor and other parts of your air conditioning system.

The location of your thermostat could also have plenty to do with your air conditioner's short cycling problems. Make sure the thermostat isn't located in close proximity to the return air vent or any of the supply vents. A blast of cold air could fool the thermostat into assuming the cooling demand has been met, only for the warm air to cox the thermostat and the air conditioner back into action.

Installing an air conditioner that's too large for your home to handle can also lead to short cycling problems later on. While an oversized air conditioner can easily cool your home in just a matter of minutes, that swift cooling process could also cause the unit to start and stop frequently just to maintain your desired temperature. This also adds unwanted wear and tear on your air conditioning system.

Solving Short Cycling Problems

In most cases, the best way to track down and resolve short cycling problems involves having a trained and certified HVAC technician take a look at your air conditioning system and address the following issues:

  • Track down any and all refrigerant leaks – The first thing your technician should do is to check the air conditioning system for refrigerant leaks at the compressor, as well as the seals and refrigerant lines. The evaporator coil and condenser coil should also be checked for signs of corrosion or damage that could allow refrigerant to escape.
  • Look for defective or damaged components - Your HVAC technician should also check the air conditioning system for frayed, corroded or otherwise damaged wiring, as well as damaged or defective relays and switches. These problems can cause your A/C compressor to short cycle.
  • Change the thermostat location - If your thermostat's current location is a problem, you should have your HVAC technician rewire your thermostat elsewhere, preferably in a location that isn't exposed to direct sunlight or drafts. You can also take this opportunity to upgrade to a programmable thermostat, if you haven't done so already.
  • Re-evaluate your A/C system's size - if an oversized A/C system is the cause of your short cycling problems, then you may need to consider right-sizing your air conditioner so that it better fits your home's cooling needs. Your HVAC technician can easily accomplish this by using the Air Conditioning Contractors of America's (ACCA) Manual J load calculation and Manual S equipment selection procedures.

In most cases, it's possible to save your air conditioning system from unnecessary stress and damage just by being proactive about short cycling problems. However, you may end up replacing your A/C compressor if it's already showing signs of damage due to short cycling.

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