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When a Good AC Does Too Much: Short-Cycling

tools-on-ac-unitHow can an AC do too much? You can always lower the thermostat, right?

Well, this is true if you don’t want your home to be too cold. And if your air conditioner was correctly sized for the house, adjusting the thermostat to a comfortable level is all you need to do.

The problem we’re talking about in this post is when your AC works too hard in another way. It’s called short-cycling, and it leads to high utility bills, uneven cooling, and eventually a busted air conditioner that needs to be retired before it’s time.

The short-cycling basics

Short-cycling is when an air conditioning system becomes trapped in its start-up cycle and doesn’t complete a full cooling cycle. The compressor turns on to start the cooling cycle and circulate refrigerant. It then shuts down early—and turns back on again a short time later, restarting the process.

You’re probably accustomed to the sound of the compressor turning on: it’s the deep whirring noise that starts while the fans are already running. If you hear this sound multiple times an hour, it means the AC has started to short-cycle.

Why short-cycling is trouble

The simple reason short-cycling isn’t something you want the AC to do is that it makes the system work much harder than it should, all to deliver subpar results. An air conditioner consumes the most electrical power when the compressor starts up. Ideally, the compressor should start, run for as long as necessary to complete the cooling cycle and lower the household temperature to the setting on the thermostat, then cycle down. If it’s short-cycling, it eats up much more energy because of all the extra start-ups. Plus, it isn’t staying on long enough to send cooled air around the house. This means:

  • You’ll pay higher electrical bills during the summer.
  • The cooling around the house will be uneven, with many hot spots.
  • The wear on the AC will make repairs more likely.
  • The system will wear down faster and need to be replaced years too early.

Why short-cycling happens

There are a number of different reasons for short-cycling to begin. A technician experienced with air conditioning repair in Livingston, NJ can make a correct diagnosis of the specific trouble so it can be fixed. Here are a few of the possibilities:

  • The air conditioner was incorrectly sized when installed. An AC that’s either too large or too small for a home will cycle down constantly. The only solution to this error is to have a new system installed—and make sure only experienced professionals handle the work.
  • There is a refrigerant leak in the system. This will soon lead to compressor burnout.
  • The air filter is clogged, preventing the AC from drawing enough heat from the air to provide cooling necessary for the house.
  • The thermostat is miscalibrated or picking up “ghost” readings that are causing it to mistakenly shut off the compressor too early.
  • The air conditioner is coming to the end of its service life.

Don’t hesitate to act when you have a short-cycling air conditioning system. Our repair experts are ready to help you with the correct solution.

Repair that air conditioning system before it breaks down! Air Creations, Inc. serves Central and Northern New Jersey. “We Do It Right!”

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