Air Conditioning

What is Short Cycling? And How to Avoid It

What is Short Cycling? And How to Avoid It

If your air conditioner’s not delivering optimum performance and/or operating costs seem high, the system could be short cycling. In order for the cooling process to reach 100 percent effectiveness and efficiency, a central air conditioner needs to run for a certain minimum time before it cycles off again.In most cases, you should hear the A/C cycle on and then run for at least 10 minutes before shutting down. In addition to inadequate cooling, short cycling is hard on critical system components, especially the compressor, which may incur excess wear and tear from extended periods of rapid on/off cycling.Here are three scenarios that may result in air conditioner short cycling:

BTU capacity is too large.

A professional HVAC installation always includes a cooling load calculation to determine the cooling requirements of the house and match an A/C unit with the appropriate BTU capacity. If the cooling load was not accurately determined, the air conditioner may have excessive capacity and produce too much cooling too rapidly, resulting in short cycling. An HVAC contractor can perform a cooling load calculation to determine if the air conditioner is oversized.

Airflow is insufficient.

Typically the result of a clogged air filter, failing blower or other malfunction, airflow that falls below specifications may cause the evaporator coil to ice up and obstruct all airflow. From that point, every time the system cycles on it will quickly cycle back off again. Resolving airflow issues and coil ice formation is usually a straightforward procedure for a qualified service technician.

Leaking refrigerant.

Small leaks in the coils or refrigerant lines may cause the refrigerant charge to drop too low. A sensor detects the low charge level and automatically shuts the system down—usually only after a few minutes of operation—to avoid costly damage to the compressor. Using leak detection technology, an HVAC tech can pinpoint the leak, repair it and then restore refrigerant charge to the proper level.

If you suspect short cycling, restore cooling performance and efficiency and prevent damage to critical components by contacting the professionals at Air Assurance for a complete evaluation.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, call us at 918-217-8273.