What Causes an Air Conditioner To Short Cycle?

An air conditioning (AC) unit is a device that plays a critical role in the comfort of our homes….
a man wearing a hard hat and looking at a machine

An air conditioning (AC) unit is a device that plays a critical role in the comfort of our homes. When it’s hot outside, there’s nothing more refreshing than walking into a nice and cool home. And that’s all thanks to the AC unit, which is responsible for cooling the air in our homes.

However, like any household system, AC units can experience problems from time to time. One of these issues is short cycling. An AC unit short cycling is one of the more common problems with air conditioners and can cause them to work less efficiently and even break down. Short cycling is when the AC unit turns on and off repeatedly instead of running steadily. Today, we’ll look at some of the common causes of AC short cycling.

Poor Installation Practices


One of the most common reasons for a short cycling air conditioner is poor installation practices. Improper installation can lead to a number of problems, including a short cycling air conditioner, damage, and increased energy usage.

To ensure proper installation, be sure to hire a qualified technician. They will be able to properly size and install your air conditioner, ensuring that it runs efficiently and effectively.

Clogged or Blocked Condenser Coils

Air conditioners short-cycle when the condenser coils are clogged with dirt, debris, or ice. When the coils are clogged, the air conditioner cannot properly absorb and release heat, and the AC has to work harder to produce the same results, which causes the air conditioner to short cycle.

A Worn-Out Compressor

Another common reason for short cycling is a worn out compressor. Compressors are one of the most important pieces of equipment in your air conditioning system. They are responsible for compressing the refrigerant and circulating it through the system. When a compressor is worn out, it can cause the system to short cycle. The reason for this is when a compressor begins to wear out, it will not be able to keep up with the system’s demand, which can cause the air conditioner to short cycle.

A Dirty Air Filter


Air conditioning units can short cycle due to a dirty filter as well. When the filters are dirty, the air conditioner has to work harder to push air through them, and this can cause the unit to short cycle. That’s why it’s important to regularly clean or replace your air filter. If you’re not sure how to do it, your local HVAC technician can help.

An Improperly Sized AC Unit

If you’ve been noticing that your air conditioner is turning on and off more frequently than usual, your unit may be too small for your home. An improperly sized unit can cause short cycling as well. This means that your AC unit is too small for the square footage of your home. A unit that is too small will have to work harder than it should, causing it to short cycle.

A Refrigerant Leak


Finally, a refrigerant leak can also cause an air conditioner to short cycle. If the refrigerant level is low, the compressor will work harder than necessary to try and cool the air. This can cause the air conditioner to short cycle, turning off and on repeatedly.

Preventing Short Cycling

If your AC unit is short cycling, it’s important to troubleshoot the problem as soon as possible. In the middle of summer, a broken air conditioner can be a major headache. The best way to prevent short cycling is to keep your unit clean and well-maintained. Change your filter every month, or more often if needed, and make sure the unit is properly sized for your space. If you’re not sure how to do this, consult a qualified HVAC technician.