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AC Short Cycling

AC short cycling

Why Is My Air Conditioner Short Cycling?

AC short cycling means the air conditioner turns on and off before it cools your home to the set temperature on your thermostat. Your air conditioner cools your home through a process called cooling cycle when the compressor is on. To cool, your air conditioner’s compressor compresses and circulates refrigerant to absorb heat found inside your home to transport the heat outdoors. Short cycling happens when the cooling cycle becomes much shorter and causes the compressor to turn on and off more often than usual.

An ac short cycling can have negative effects on your HVAC system. It can reduce cooling efficiency, which results in increased energy bills, excess strain and frequent breakdowns. Most importantly, an ac short cycling will result in reduced comfort in your home. Below we discuss some of the reasons for your ac short cycling.

Oversized AC System

One of the most common reasons for your ac short cycling is an AC that is improperly sized. When it comes to AC systems bigger is not better. If the air conditioner is too large for the space it is cooling, it will be too powerful for the home or building, put out too much cold air too fast resulting in AC short cycling. Quick cooling may sound like a benefit, but it is not. Rapid cooling will cause short cycling and lead to increase strain on the system and excess wear and tear. The only way to resolve this issue, is to replace it with a system properly sized for your home.


If your AC overheats it will shut down. This is an automatic safety feature that is in place to ensure the AC does not completely break down in case of overheating. Short cycling may be a result of your system shutting down sooner than it should because of overheating shortly after it starts up. Common issues that will result in your AC overheating are low refrigerant levels, dirty air filters or malfunctioning components. Anything that may cause your AC to work harder can result in overheating.

Low Refrigerant Level

Low refrigerant levels will cause your AC unit to work overtime and not to be able to properly cool your home. This can cause overheating, system malfunctions and lead to ac short cycling. Low refrigerant levels can also cause other issues with your AC system leading to costly AC repairs.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Most often frozen evaporator coils are a result of lack of routine maintenance. Frozen evaporator coils will prevent your air conditioner from properly removing heat from your home causing your AC to short cycle. When your AC cannot remove heat, it will work much harder to get the job done and lead to your AC overheating and shutting off.

Dirty Air Filter

A clogged, dirty air filter can cause many different issues with your HVAC system, including causing it to short cycle. Check and replace your filters often, to prevent buildup of dirt, dust or other debris. When the air filter is clogged, it restricts airflow and the system cannot pull enough fresh air in. This will cause your air conditioner to work harder and put excess strain on the components such as the blower and compressor. As a result, the system may overheat and short cycle or even potentially break down and result in costly ac repairs. Regularly replace your air filters to avoid short cycling and other common HVAC issues.

Thermostat Issues

The thermostat is responsible for controlling the AC by determining when the motor starts and stops. An air conditioner may end its cooling cycle early if you have a faulty thermostat or if the thermostat is in a less than optimal location in your home. If the thermostat is near a window or a vent where it receives drafts or direct sunlight it will turn the compressor on and off at the wrong times. An ac repair technician can usually fix the problem by replacing the faulty thermostat or by moving it away from direct sunlight or vents.

Electrical Issues

If there are any issues with the electrical system or control board, your air conditioner will not be able to run at the right times. Your AC relies on electrical signals to function properly and all the electrical components are subject to wear and tear or overheating leading to short cycling. If you are experiencing any kind of electrical issues or suspect a damaged capacitor or contactor, call us for ac repair and shut your unit off to avoid any further issues with your system.

Air Leaks

Another reason your AC can short cycle is if your home is losing cool air. Any damage to the duct system, poor insulation, or gaps around doors and windows can lead to air leaks. This will lead your AC to start its cooling cycles soon after every off cycle.

What You Can Do

To prevent AC short cycling, the first thing you can do is regularly inspect and install a clean air filter in your system. Also, if you notice your evaporator coils are frozen, turn your AC off and allow them to thaw out. If your evaporator coils freeze again or your system continues to short cycle give us a call. Most importantly, keep your AC unit regularly maintained. It is important to schedule AC maintenance every year. During maintenance we will inspect all components, therefore lowering the risk for short cycling issues in the summer.

Give Us A Call

AC maintenance may be all your system needs to resolve your short cycling issue. The good news is you can give LA Construction Heating and Air, your local Woodland Hills AC repair contractor a call at 818-341-3406 or contact us online. We can help you when you need ac repair service, ac maintenance, or ac replacement. Short cycling can cause discomfort in your home, but by calling us we can improve your indoor comfort and reduce your energy bills by getting your AC operating properly and efficiently.

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