AC System Short Cycling: Common Causes For Repair

Categories: ac installation

Short Cycling can be a common but detrimental problem in your air conditioning unit. Short Cycling in your air conditioning unit means that the unit is running for a very short period of time, or it is off for a very short period of time. This fast movement back and forth between on and off is not energy efficient, and can also shorten the lifespan of your air conditioning unit. Your air conditioning unit should be starting and stopping at a fairly moderate pace, and not in such a quick manner. In order to determine whether or not your system is short cycling, read below for some common causes for this problem. The issue of short cycling is often a quick and easy fix if detected and repaired early on.

Refrigerant Leakage

One common cause of short cycling in your air conditioning unit could be caused by your system leaking refrigerant. While there are no physical signs to the blind eye that your system is leaking refrigerant, as the refrigerant immediately evaporates, it does leave a oily or greasy residue on coils and hoses. You can search for refrigerant leaks by looking for these oily or greasy streaks on the coils and hoses, or by adding a leak detecting dye to your system, which can be purchased at a hardware store. Professional technicians will use an electronic device that detects leaks more easily than the techniques mentioned above.

AC Coil Freezing

Another common cause of short cycling is when the AC coil freezes, or ices over. This happens when the coil that is responsible for cooling becomes frosted over or covered with ice, which then leads to a lack of proper cooling air circulation and causes the system to short cycle. The coils become frozen over when there is an accumulation of dirt in the system due to a dirty filter, or also when the system is low on refrigerant. Often times this problem of frozen coils can be resolved by turning off the unit until the ice melts, replacing the air filter, or checking the refrigerant and replacing if needed.


Yet another common cause of short cycling in an air conditioning unit is when the unit is not the appropriate size for the space it is attempting to cool. A technician can assess the size of your air conditioning unit and determine whether or not it is right for your living space. If the unit is too big, the technician can replace it with a smaller unit, and vice versa. Although this is something that is typically reviewed before installing and air conditioning unit, the problem can occur over time if an addition or partition is added to the home, or if doors or windows that were not frequently opened or closed in the past are not being opened or closed.

If you determine that your system is in need of repairs for short cycling, be sure to inform your technician of what you have found and what you suspect, and hopefully these simple repairs can be made and your air conditioning unit will return to it’s proper functioning.

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