how often should air conditioner cycle on and off

My Central Air Conditioner Turns On and Off Frequently

If you’ve noticed your air conditioner turns on and off frequently, you’re probably wondering whether this is normal or a sign that there is something wrong.

If your HVAC system is the right size for your home and is running efficiently, it should run in cycles that are around 15 minutes in length. This would translate to two to three cycles per hour. But if your air conditioner turns on and off more than that it is most likely short cycling.

Short cycling occurs when your HVAC system completes a cycle too fast. This problem is caused by an underlying issue.

While short cycling might not seem like a huge problem, it can impede your home’s overall comfort, put extra strain on your system, and up your energy costs in the process.

The good news is you can stop your air conditioner from short cycling with a little information about what to look for. Read on for more information about short cycling and learn what you can do to stop or prevent it altogether.

What Is Short Cycling?

Air conditioning systems vary by make and model, but every system operates in cycles which begin when the air conditioner kicks on.

The HVAC system then circulates cool or warm air throughout the home or building, until the desired temperature is reached. Once the temperature is reached, the air conditioner kicks off. This is one cycle and usually takes around 15 minutes.

But what if your air conditioner turns on and off frequently?

When something is wrong with your HVAC system, it can affect the cycles. That’s why you may notice that your air conditioning system seems to turn on and off very fast instead of running for 15 minutes. This likely means that your air conditioning system is short cycling.

The Symptoms of AC Short Cycling

Besides improper cycling, there are other reasons that your HVAC system is short cycling to check for.

Your AC turns on and off frequently

If your system turns on and off in less time than the normal 15-minute cycle, it’s probably short cycling.

Your air filters are unusually dirty

You should be changing your air filter every two to three months. At this point, the air filter will have accumulated its share of dust. But if you notice the air filter is unusually dirty, it could be a sign of short cycling. That’s because short cycling can cause excess debris in your home due to impeded air flow.

Refrigerant is leaking from your system

A peek at the levels of refrigerant can tell you if your air conditioning system is short cycling. If there is less refrigerant in your HVAC system, you probably have a leak somewhere, which can cause your system to short cycle.

There is ice on the evaporator coils

Frozen evaporator coils are another symptom of short cycling. Frozen evaporator coils stop your system from removing heat from your home. This puts unnecessary strain on your HVAC system which can cause short cycling.

4 Factors That Cause AC Short Cycling

You know the symptoms to look out for if you suspect your AC is short cycling, but what causes short cycling in the first place?

1. Your air conditioner is too big

If your air conditioning system is too big for your home, it won’t be able to cycle correctly. That’s because an AC that is too large will cool your home too quickly.

While this might not sound like a bad thing, when your home cools too quickly, your AC can’t complete a full cycle. This means it can’t properly remove the warm air in your home or the humidity. Living in Florida, you definitely don’t need extra humidity inside!

This can also cause dramatic temperature shifts throughout your house as well as higher energy bills.

Think your air conditioning system is too big for your home? Contact us for an inspection.

2. Your air filter is clogged

You probably already know your air conditioning system needs to have a fresh air filter in order to run efficiently. Not only does doing so help keep the air in your home clean, but it can prevent short cycling too.

Air filters can become clogged if they aren’t changed regularly. This can prevent the proper flow of air through your system, which can affect its cycles.

3. Your system is leaking refrigerant

Your air conditioning system needs refrigerant to cool your home. Without it, your system will experience insufficient airflow which will result in short cycling.

It’s important to note that fixing a refrigerant leak needs to be done by a professional. Refrigerant can be harmful and fixing the issue isn’t as simple as topping off the levels in your system.

4. The evaporator coils are frozen

Living in Florida, you don’t expect to see ice on your air conditioner, but the evaporator coils can freeze over. Improper airflow can prevent from blowing over the evaporator coils which in return can cause them to freeze. Anytime your evaporator coils freeze, your system may not cycle properly.

How to Fix or Prevent Your AC From Short Cycling

Before you can get your air conditioner to return to its normal cycle, you’ll need to know the underlying issue.

If your air conditioning turns on and off frequently, we recommend checking the air filter first. If it’s dirty, swap it for a fresh one and see if the cycles improve. Your system may be short cycling simply because the air filter is clogged.

If your AC continues to short cycle, we recommend calling a reliable HVAC technician who can perform an inspection. A proper inspection will determine the underlying cause of short cycling.

Schedule an Annual Maintenance Checkup Each Year

Preventing short cycling in the first place is easy when you schedule an annual maintenance checkup with a trusted HVAC company.

During a maintenance checkup, a technician will inspect your air conditioning system, complete necessary tune-ups, and diagnose and fix potential issues early one.

Contact A Plus Air Conditioning for Help With Short Cycling

No Florida homeowner wants to deal with an uncomfortable home due to their air conditioner short cycling. At A Plus Air Conditioning, our professional team offers quality air conditioning and heating repairs for Tampa Bay, Florida homeowners and can diagnose what is causing your system to short cycle and address the issue fast.

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