Many people will experience short cycling issues as the hotter weather draws to a close. This is pretty common; the hottest days are behind us, and it’s easy to miss or ignoring short cycling. After all, soon, the AC system will not be required, and our attention will be focused on future heating needs. But, if you experience short cycling, it’s important to contact your local HVAC specialist to fix the problem. Short cycling can damage your HVAC system and waste a lot of energy at the same time. Let’s take a look at what short cycling is and the common causes in more detail.
Short Cycling Issues
We will look at some of the most common causes of short cycling in the next section, but first, we need to explain the term. Many people think that they understand what short cycling means, but they may have an incomplete definition. Short cycling occurs when there is some kind of problem that is preventing your air conditioning from completing its cooling cycle.
When an air conditioning system is short cycling, you will notice that it is turning on and off every few minutes. This will prevent the air conditioning from cooling the home effectively and efficiently. This will lead to a reduction in home comfort, and your energy bills will increase dramatically.
If all this wasn’t bad enough, the air conditioning turning on and off rapidly will cause damage to your system. The components will be placed under additional stress, which can lead to failure. In extreme cases, the components may even need replacement, and this can be expensive. When equipment is operated under these conditions, it typically shortens the useful lifespan leading to an earlier than expected replacement.
4 Common Causes of Short Cycling
There are a many possible causes of short cycling here are the four most common ones in no particular order.
- A Blocked Air Filter
As your AC system moves treated air throughout your home, it will gather dirt and debris. Every air conditioner should have an air filter. Its purpose is to prevent that material from getting into sensitive components where it could cause damage. This system works well, but once the surface of the air filter is clogged, it can cause different problems. Every air conditioner relies on a steady flow of air to work, and when this is restricted, it can cause overheating issues that may damage the system. As a safety precaution, the AC system may shut down only to start up a few minutes later, and as we know, this is short cycling. Luckily, this is a very easy problem to solve. We recommend that you change or clean your air filters each month during the summer. If you have pets in your home, you may want to check your filters every couple of weeks because pet hair can clog an air filter quickly.
- A Refrigerant Leak
Refrigerant is like the blood in the circulatory system of your AC system. Many people believe that their air conditioning cools their homes, but this is incorrect. The way the system works is that heat is carried out of the home and distributed outside. The refrigerant is kept under pressure and circulated to remove the heat and bring your home to the temperature set on the thermostat. When an AC system is charged with refrigerant, it should work well for quite some time, but a leak can cause a drop in pressure. This forces the AC system to work hard in order to compensate, and this can lead to short cycling problems. To confirm your suspicions, look out for some other signs that a refrigerant leak has occurred, such as reduced cooling performance, odd hissing noises, and evidence of leaks near the cooling equipment. If a refrigerant leak has occurred, avoid the temptation to recharge the system yourself. Mixing different types of refrigerants reduces efficiency, and it’s easy to make the problem even worse.
- Ice on Evaporator Coils
If you visit your outdoor unit and notice that the evaporator coils are covered in ice and frozen, you may think that this is a good thing. But, as we mentioned above, the AC system removes heat; it doesn’t cool the home down. Any signs of ice on the evaporator coils demonstrates that the refrigerant is not being pushed through the system efficiently. Eventually, this could cause damage to the compressor, which is needed to keep the AC system moving to remove the heat. The compressor is an expensive component to replace, so it’s important to contact an HVAC specialist to confirm the cause and fix the problem quickly.
- The AC System Size
Many people install the largest AC system that they can afford because they think that this will improve cooling times. But, it is possible to have an air conditioner with a cooling output that is too large for the home. When this type of AC system is turned on, it will cool down the spaces far too quickly, leading to short cycling problems. This occurs because the home will reach the desired temperature before the air conditioner reaches the end of a full cooling cycle. The AC system becomes confused, and it will be difficult to achieve and then maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Sadly, the only way to fix this problem is to replace the air conditioner with a smaller unit that will cool the air efficiently. If you’ve moved into a home with an AC system in place, you will need a replacement, but if you’re installing a new AC system, you can avoid these issues. Make sure you have a professional load calculation carried out by an HVAC specialist. There are free load calculation tools available online, but they only work on the square footage of your home. This will lead to an incorrect load calculation because other factors, such as insulation levels, home orientation, the number of windows, and many others, are not taken into account.
If you’re experiencing short cycling problems, it’s important to call your local HVAC specialist. This problem will not improve by ignoring it, and the longer it continues, the more damage that could be caused, leading to a higher repair bill.