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AC Short-Cycling: What Is It & How Do I Fix It?


Air conditioners are a great way to stay cool in the blistering heat of summer. Yet, these easy-to-operate appliances are complex pieces of machinery made up of various wires, coils, and other moving parts. At any point in time, any of these components can break down, causing a ripple effect that eventually leads to one of the most common reasons for your AC failure. We’re talking about short-cycling. In this post, you’ll learn what short-cycling is, how it’s caused, and what you can do to remedy the issue.

What Is Short-Cycling?

Short-cycling is when your air conditioner fails to enter a full cooling cycle. A typical functioning air conditioner will go through three cooling cycles per hour. These cycles last about 10 minutes each, meaning that the AC’s compressor will power up and run for 10 minutes, stop for 10 minutes, and repeat two more times within an hour. As the name suggests, short-cycling is when this cycle is cut short, resulting in the AC’s inability to complete a cooling cycle. In short, it can’t properly cool your home (in addition to experiencing extra wear and tear).

What Causes Short-Cycling?

Short-cycling can be due to several underlying factors. Some of the leading causes include:

  • A clogged air filter: This can cause your AC’s evaporator coils to freeze, leading to short-cycling.
  • Lower refrigerant levels: Coils can also freeze due to low refrigerant levels caused by leaks in your AC.
  • Improperly insulated ventilation system: Your AC will be forced to work overtime without proper insulation, possibly leading to short-cycling.
  • Faulty thermostat: If your thermostat can’t accurately read the temperature, your AC can never fully reach its cooling point to perform an entire cycle.
  • Wrong-sized AC: An oversized AC can cool rooms much faster but are more likely to short-cycle as a result.

How You Can Fix Short-Cycling

If you’re experiencing short-cycling issues with your AC and can’t get in touch with a professional technician, there are a few things you can do to remedy your air conditioner’s short-cycling issues:

  • Replace your air filter: Keeping your air filter free of dust and debris can prevent your coils from freezing and reduce the risk of short-cycling.
  • Check your thermostat placement: Be sure to have your thermostat far enough away from your air conditioner to get an accurate temperature reading.
  • Make sure you have the right-sized AC: Only use high-powered or large ACs to cool down large rooms and window ACs for smaller spaces.

Performing routine maintenance on your AC can also help prevent your air conditioner from short-cycling.

When To Call the Experts at Iceberg Cooling

Because your air conditioner is a complex appliance, it may need a bit more than just a filter change to start working again. Our technicians are trained and experienced in professional air conditioning repair and replacement services to deliver cooling comfort back to your home.

Call (863) 223-1849 or contact us online today for help with your air conditioning unit!

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