Air conditioning is meant to come on and stay on for at least 10 to 15 minutes, often much longer. If your AC is continuing to turn off after 15 minutes or less every single time, or even just minutes after it first kicks on, your unit is “short cycling.”
Short cycling should always be addressed and fixed, but it may be something simple you can handle yourself. If your AC is also blowing warm or hot air, this may be a sign of a serious problem. An air conditioning repair technician can help with any of these situations, from big to small.
What Is Short Cycling, and Why Is It Bad?
When it comes to HVAC problems, short cycling occurs when an air conditioner or furnace turns on and off more frequently than usual. Short cycling is bad for a few reasons:
- It means you’re wasting energy and driving up energy costs for your home.
- You may not be achieving comfortable temperatures or cooling evenly.
- In many cases, it means something is wrong with the unit.
If something is wrong with your unit, you’ll need to figure out what it is. Typically, short cycling can come from an incorrect unit size, thermostat problems, neglected routine maintenance, or something that might require a simple repair.
Effects of a Short Cycling Air Conditioner
It is possible for air conditioning systems to short cycle for weeks or months before you fully understand what’s going on. While the AC system is short cycling, these cumulative effects are happening:
- Increased humidity in your home: Your AC unit removes humidity as well as heat from the inside of your home. The humidity in the air remains inside when the system is short-cycling.
- Higher energy bills: When your central air conditioner has to work harder, your electric bill rises. A short-cycling heating and cooling system uses more energy than a normal functioning system.
- Wear and tear on your central AC system: With a life of about fifteen to twenty years, air conditioners and their compressors are worn down when the unit is short-cycling for an extended period of time and it may end up costing you a lot for a new AC.
AC Problems That Cause Your Unit to Shut Off
If there’s something wrong with your air conditioner that makes it shut off after just 15 minutes, it’s usually one of these issues:
- Unit is overheating: This often means there is simply a buildup of grime inside the compressor unit, but it could also mean there’s a refrigerant leak or another problem.
- Faulty thermostat: The wiring may have been damaged on your thermostat or there may be an electrical problem.
- Lack of annual maintenance: Air conditioners require regular maintenance at least once a year (twice a year is better in the desert). With an affordable maintenance plan at an experienced repair company, you can keep your AC in top shape.
Three Easy Fixes for an AC That Keeps Shutting Off
These fixes won’t work in every case, and they won’t resolve an air conditioner with a faulty component. However, these situations are worth checking before you call in a professional. You can check these three things on your own:
- The thermostat settings: Something similar applies to checking even the most basic things before deciding your AC is broken. Try setting the thermostat temperature lower and see if the AC stays on longer.
- The timer: Similarly, your thermostat may have timer settings, even if you’ve never used them. Check your manual or the menus on the thermostat to see if you can change the timer.
- Your thermostat location: Wherever the thermostat is located is where it senses the indoor temperature and decides if it’s cool enough yet. If the thermostat is away from windows, near an AC vent, or on the shady side of the house, there could lie your problem. Your thermostat may simply need to be relocated.
If these aren’t causing your air conditioner to turn off and short cycle, in most cases, it means you’ll need to contact a pro.
Does Your Air Conditioner Turn Off Right Away?
Rather than after 15 minutes, if your air conditioning unit turns on and then off immediately, you most likely have problems with the electrical components or the run capacitor.
This is a common cause of short cycling and there may be an issue with the electrical supply line or the capacitor could be broken or failing. This can be caused by the thermostat, electrical connections in the system, or the circuit boards.
Bad Run Capacitor
Your AC’s run capacitor gives your system the initial boost of energy it needs to turn on and provide continuous power. When this part is ruined, the intermittent power that’s supplied to your unit will cause it to turn off unexpectedly and then back on.
Clogged Drain Line
Most AC systems have a safety feature called a float switch that will turn off your system when the water in the drain line is not flowing properly and begins to back up. If you have already ruled out thermostat and electrical problems, pay close attention to see if the air does not circulate when you turn your thermostat to auto.
Get Your AC Fixed for Good
Ambient Edge provides fast, effective AC repairs, and a 5-star guarantee. We can diagnose your air conditioner’s problem, get it running, and ensure it’s doing a good job of cooling your home. Call us or fill out the form to your right and speak with an AC pro today.