Why Is My Air Conditioner Running In Short Bursts?

image of a couple feeling hot due to air conditioner short cycling

Homes rely on air conditioners to cool them down when it gets too hot. If sensors detect that the ambient temperature is higher than the thermostat settings, then the AC will begin the cooling cycle until the room reaches the ideal condition. This should happen in a slow and steady manner. If your air conditioner is running in short bursts, then you are dealing with a phenomenon called AC short cycling. It can lead to several problems unless properly addressed. In this article, we tackle the causes and effects of short cycling, as well as what you can do to prevent it.

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Common Causes Of Air Conditioner Short Cycling

1. Oversized AC Unit

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to air conditioners. If your unit is too powerful, then it will push out a high amount of cold air into your spaces and shut off right away. This may cool the house fast but it won’t be able to lower humidity. The unit won’t be operating long enough to tackle this other concern. It will also consume a lot of energy. Lastly, an oversized AC will create a situation where there is inconsistent cooling between different spaces around the house.

2. Clogged HVAC Air Filters

pollutants on hvac air filter

Air filters require constant monitoring and regular replacement. Homeowners can’t let this get too dirty because they will begin to block the air from coming inside the system. As a result, the unit will work harder as a way to compensate for the reduced airflow. The compressor and the blower will be stressed until they eventually overheat. This leads to short cycling and may lead to equipment breakdown over time.

Make it a habit to replace the filters on schedule as suggested by the equipment manual. However, it is important to note that some homes require a more frequent filter replacement than others. As a good rule of thumb, check your filter monthly and replace it when it is dirty.

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3. Frozen Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils are responsible for absorbing the heat within the house. If they are frozen or dirty, then they will not be able to work as they are supposed to. This can also lead to overheating such that the unit will automatically shut off to prevent further damage before achieving the desired temperature.

Various mechanical issues can cause this. Instead of allowing the short cycling to persist, homeowners may shut the air conditioning system down completely until the ice thaws. If the coils freeze again, then they will need to call a professional HVAC contractor for assistance.

4. Low Air Conditioner Refrigerant Levels

image of an hvac contractor checking air conditioner refrigerant levels

The refrigerant is the lifeblood of the cooling system. There needs to be enough of this substance to circulate and move heat from the interior to the exterior. A leak can make it run low. This forces the air conditioning system to work harder than usual to cool down the house. This stresses the components until short cycling occurs.

HVAC technicians can check the refrigerant levels and confirm whether there is a leak or not. They will pinpoint the leak and fix it right away. They will also inject more refrigerant into the system until things go back to normal.

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5. Air Conditioner Electrical Issues

In some cases, the air conditioner problem can be traced to faulty wiring and control boards. Maybe the air conditioner is not getting enough power because of the electrical issues. It may attempt to start and then falter. This is far too complex and dangerous for homeowners to tackle by themselves. It is more prudent to ask HVAC technicians to check the air conditioning system and determine whether this may be the cause of the short cycling. They can fix the wiring and control board if necessary.

6. Poor Thermostat Placement


Short cycling could also occur because of poor thermostat placement within the house. Consider whether this might be located near a window that gets a lot of sun or some other heat source. Even when the room is quite cool, the sensors might be tricked into thinking that the space is hot because of direct sunlight. It will spring into action again and shut off promptly. The thermostat may have to be shielded or relocated in a more suitable spot for this to stop.

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Reasons To Avoid Air Conditioner Short Cycling

1. AC Equipment Damage

Air conditioners are not designed to turn on and off in short bursts. This places enormous stress on the system components. It leads to significant wear and tear that may eventually result in equipment breakdown. Owners will have to deal with premature parts replacement and a diminished service life.

2. Soaring Energy Bill

image of a homeowner dealing with high cooling costs

Short cycling makes the cooling system work harder than it should. It also consumes more energy than usual. Air conditioners already use up a lot of energy when running normally so this air conditioner inefficiency is certainly not welcome. Homeowners may find that their energy bills are soaring through the roof. Ignoring the AC problem can be costly.

3. Inconsistent Room Temperatures

Rooms inside the house may exhibit large variations in temperature. Some will be quite cold while others are warm. The short bursts don’t allow cool air to circulate properly. This can create difficulties for the people who need to work or study in the warm areas during summer.

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Air conditioner short cycling is a big problem. It is extremely harmful to the system and expensive for homeowners. It’s best to avoid it from the start by hiring a competent HVAC contractor that can select the right air conditioner size and install the system properly. Scheduling annual air conditioner maintenance will also help in spotting potential issues quickly so that they can be dealt with quickly. Electrical issues, AC refrigerant leaks, and dirty coils can be remedied before they trigger short cycling.

Call McAllister Energy For Superior Heating & Cooling Solutions

McAllister Energy

McAllister Energy offers high-quality HVAC services in Camden County, New Jersey. We hire only the best professionally certified technicians who conduct superior heating and cooling services. Some of our HVAC services include HVAC maintenance, heating and cooling installations, repairs, ductless systems, and much more. All our techs provide accurate HVAC services on time, every time.

Our company guarantees affordable heating and cooling service rates. Our maintenance services can increase your home’s comfort, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. We can also provide you with a highly energy-efficient HVAC replacement system that fits your budget. Your satisfaction is important to us, so all our work comes with a guarantee. Book a service appointment with McAllister Energy today. We provide free, in-home estimates.

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