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What’s Causing Your AC Unit to Short Cycle?

calfo employees performing an ac repair in pittsburgh pa

Most homeowners don’t pay too much attention to their air conditioners—they expect them to turn on when it gets too hot in their homes and turn off when it’s back to a comfortable temperature.

But it can be hard to ignore when an AC seems to be turning on and off very frequently. This is what’s known as short cycling. A properly functioning central AC will turn on and off 2-3 times an hour, or every 15-20 minutes. If your AC is turning on and off every 10 minutes or less, it’s likely short cycling and you could be putting unnecessary stress on your HVAC equipment, leading to:

  • High energy bills
  • Inconsistent temperatures
  • Expensive AC repair
  • Increased indoor humidity
  • Shorter system lifespan

Here are 5 causes of short cycling and what to do about them.

1. An Oversized System

When it comes to HVAC systems, proper sizing can make a big difference in AC performance. If your HVAC system is too big for your home, it won’t run long enough to evenly circulate conditioned air, leaving hot and cold spots in your home. It also won’t effectively remove humidity from your indoors, which can be a dealbreaker for many homeowners on a humid Pittsburgh summer day.

Unfortunately, if your AC unit is too big you can’t “fix” it—it needs to be replaced. The good news is that you’ll immediately start saving money with new, properly-sized HVAC design and installation services.

2. Clogged Air Filter

If you don’t change your air filters regularly, they could collect so much dirt, dust, and particulates that they restrict airflow through your system, causing your AC to short cycle. The good news is that air filters are easy to change—they’re also a part of an AC maintenance visit!

3. Low Refrigerant

Refrigerant is the “lifeblood” of your AC—it’s how your cooling system transfers heat out of your home and lowers the temperature inside. If you have a refrigerant leak and you’re running low, your system will have to work harder to remove heat from the air and can short cycle.

Anytime you have a refrigerant leak, you need to call an HVAC professional to fix the leak and recharge your refrigerant.

4. Frozen Evaporator Coils

Without regular HVAC maintenance, dirt and dust can build up on your AC unit’s evaporator coils. This makes it more difficult to absorb heat from the air, and condensation can freeze on your coils, causing your AC to short cycle or even shut off completely.

Yearly AC tune-ups are one of the most cost-effective ways to avoid expensive air conditioner repair and extend the life of your unit.

5. Your AC Is Too Old

Nothing lasts forever—and that includes your cooling system. Eventually, years of operation will slow down its efficiency and cause the wiring to become loose or worn out, leading to short cycling.

A qualified AC technician can assess your system and explain how you may or may not benefit from a new, high-efficiency AC unit. Upgrading your HVAC often leads to fewer breakdowns, lower energy bills, and a more comfortable home!

Schedule AC Services Today from Pittsburgh’s Finest

At Calfo, we roll out the red carpet (literally!) for every one of our customers, whether you’re calling for routine maintenance, AC unit repair, or new AC installation. Our technicians have at least 10,000 hours of training, so no matter what the issue with your cooling is, the team at Calfo can help!

Get your home’s HVAC system back on YOUR schedule. Call [custom:phone-number] or contact Calfo online for help with a short cycling AC and much more.