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Is Your AC Running in Short Bursts?

Interior, living room. A sunny day. Joe and Susan Homeowner are sweating, waiting for the AC to start up.

Any minute, now. I’m sure of it.
There it goes! Finally, I’m—wait, what happened?
It—it seems to have shut back off. Susan, it shut right back off! I don’t know—wait, it’s started again!
Well, thank goodness for that. I was starting to—
(We hear the system shut back down. Susan and Joe Homeowner both fall to their knees.
Susan and Joe:

What Did Susan and Joe Do to Deserve This Cruel Fate?

Sometimes, bad things happen to good homeowners. Occasionally, those bad things really do come out of the blue. In many cases, however, it is a problem that has grown out of the homeowners’ mistakes. Today, we are going to be looking at the problem that Joe and Sue find themselves up against—short cycling—and some of the reasons that they may have run into it.

What Is Short Cycling?

Short cycling, as seen in the harrowing work of realistic fiction above, is the situation in which one’s air conditioner (or heater) starts up, but then cycles back down again more rapidly than it should. Then it starts up, only to cycle right back down. It’s more than just a minor annoyance. It is a sign of potentially serious problems with your AC, and short cycling itself can actually wind up causing more problems down the road.

What Causes It?

There are a few potential causes. In some cases, like we said, the homeowners shoulder some of the blame. This is the case with an overly dirty air filter.

If your air filter is too dirty, then it will wind up restricting airflow to the point that your system can actually overheat as it attempts to cool your house down. Then, the system may cycle down in an effort to prevent damage caused by overheating. In such cases, changing the air filter is all that is necessary to alleviate the problem.

Then there is the matter of faulty components in the system, which will require professional air conditioning service in Raleigh, NC. If your thermostat registers temperatures inaccurately, then it may signal to your system to shut down prematurely. You may also have a faulty run capacitor, which will fail to maintain the consistent charge necessary for keeping the system up and running reliably.

The Big Kahuna

There is one problem that may lead to short cycling that is much more serious than any of the others discussed so far. That is the refrigerant leak. If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, then a leak is the most likely culprit (though in fairly rare cases, the system was charged insufficiently to begin with).

If there is not enough refrigerant in your system, it may overheat as it struggles to cool the air. Ice can develop on the evaporator coil, as it can with a dirty filter, causing condensation to freeze up. Eventually, the leak can cause damage to the compressor that will make a full system replacement your best, if not only, option.

Contact Raleigh Heating & Air if your air conditioner is not running properly. 

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