man cooling himself with a fan due to high humidity levels at home and ac short cycling

Homes depend on air conditioners for cooling when it’s hot outside. They are equipped with sensors to detect if the ambient temperature is higher than the settings in the thermostat. This will trigger the air conditioner to start the cooling cycle until the set temperature is achieved. This should happen slowly and steadily. If your air conditioning system runs in short bursts, you have a short cycling problem on your hands. This causes problems unless properly handled. Read on to learn about the causes and effects of AC short cycling and how you can prevent it.

Common Causes Of AC Short Cycling

Here are several common reasons behind a short cycling air conditioner:

Air Conditioner Is Too Large

Bigger air conditioners don’t always translate to better. An AC unit that is too powerful will push out high amounts of cold air into your home and turn off immediately. This may cool the house faster, but the system cannot lower the humidity this way. The unit will not operate long enough to do so. It will also have a higher energy consumption. Moreover, oversized air conditioners will lead to uneven cooling throughout the different areas in the house.

Clogged Air Filters

air conditioner filter with dirt

Air filters need to be constantly monitored and regularly replaced. If this component gets too dirty, it will block the air from getting into your system. The unit will have to work harder to compensate for this reduced airflow. The compressor and blower are placed under a heavy burden until they eventually overheat. This causes short cycling, and the system can break down as time passes.

Follow a filter replacement schedule as suggested by the owner’s manual. However, some homes need to replace the air filters more frequently than others. A good rule of thumb to follow is to check your filters once a month and replace them as needed.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils absorb the heat in the house. Frozen or dirty evaporator coils will not work as they should, leading to overheating. This will also automatically turn off the unit to prevent more damage before the set temperature is achieved.

Several mechanical problems can cause this. Homeowners can let their air conditioners shut down entirely for the ice to thaw instead of letting the short cycling persist. Call a professional HVAC contractor to help you if the coils freeze again.

Low Refrigerant Levels

image of an hvac contractor checking air conditioner refrigerant levels

The refrigerant is the cooling system’s lifeblood. It should be at an adequate amount to ensure this liquid can circulate and move heat from the inside of the home to the outside. A leak will cause the refrigerant to run low. As a result, the air conditioner is forced to work harder than it should to cool your home. This will stress your system’s components, and short cycling can happen.
HVAC technicians can conduct a refrigerant level check and determine if there is a leak. They can also find the leak and repair it right away. HVAC techs will also inject the system with more refrigerant until the level is back to normal.

Air Conditioner Electrical Issues

The problem can be due to malfunctioning wiring control boards in some instances. The air conditioner may not be receiving sufficient power because of electrical issues. As a result, it may try to start and then falter. This is a complicated and dangerous issue for homeowners to handle themselves. It is recommended that you consult an HVAC technician instead. They can check the air conditioner and find out if it is causing the short cycling. They can repair the wiring and control board if needed.

Poor Thermostat Placement

homeowner adjusting thermostat

Poor thermostat placement can also lead to short cycling. The thermostat may be placed near a window that receives a lot of sun or is near another heat source. The sensors may think that the room is hot because of the direct sunlight even though it is already cool. This will cause the system to turn on and off promptly. The thermostat needs to be shielded or relocated to a better location to stop this from happening again.

Why You Should Avoid Air Conditioner Short Cycling

Here are why you should prevent your air conditioner from short cycling:

Air Conditioner Damage

Air conditioners are not meant to switch on and off in short bursts. It only stresses the system components, leading to hastened wear and tear. This may also result in equipment breakdown down the line. Homeowners will have to handle replacing the parts prematurely and the system’s diminished lifespan.

Increased Energy Bill

couple looking at energy costs and high cost of air conditioning

A short cycling system works harder than it normally would. It also has higher energy consumption. Air conditioners already use tremendous amounts of energy when running normally, so this inefficiency is unwelcome. This will only result in a spike in your energy bills. Neglecting to address this air conditioning problem can be expensive.

Inconsistent Room Temperatures

Rooms in the house may largely vary in temperature. Some might be warm, while others are quite cold. The short bursts disrupt the cool air from circulating properly. This can make it difficult for the occupants of the house who need to study or work in the warm rooms during summer.


Short cycling is a big air conditioning issue. It causes extreme harm to the system and is costly for homeowners. It is best to prevent it from happening at the onset. Therefore, hire a competent HVAC technician who can help you find the right air conditioner size and install it properly. Schedule yearly maintenance because this will help quickly determine potential issues so they are repaired right away. Refrigerant leaks, dirty coils, and electrical issues can be resolved before they cause short cycling.

Call Tower Energy For Your Air Conditioning Requirements

Tower Energy LogoWhen you require top-notch HVAC services in Hartford County, Connecticut, do not hesitate to call Tower Energy. We have the best professionally certified technicians who can conduct high-quality heating and cooling maintenance, installations, repairs, and replacements. Each of our friendly techs has the right tools, extensive knowledge, and years of experience to ensure accurate and prompt HVAC system services.

Tower Energy guarantees to have the most competitive HVAC service rates in the locality. Our tune-ups can enhance your home’s comfort and energy efficiency while reducing your cooling bills. If you need to repair or replace your HVAC system, we can recommend the best solution for your home that’s within your budget. All our work is backed with a guarantee. Schedule an air conditioner tune-up or service appointment by calling Tower Energy today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

Contact us now or call us at (860) 677-7347 to find out more.