There are plenty of reasons why your air conditioner might not be cooling as effectively as you'd expect it to. One of these reasons may involve short cycling, a phenomenon that could easily take a toll on your A/C system's lifespan as well as its ability to keep your home comfortable. The following offers an in-depth explanation of what short cycling does to your A/C system, its potential causes and ways you can fix the problem and prevent it from happening in the future.
An Endless Cycle
Your A/C system uses its compressor to maintain the flow of refrigerant as well as help it transition between its liquid and vapor states. It's perfectly normal for the compressor to cycle on and off in order to maintain your thermostat's temperature set point. A typical cooling cycle, where the compressor is turned on, often lasts for 10 minutes or more.
Short cycling often causes the A/C compressor to cycle on and off in an extremely short amount of time, usually within the span of a few minutes or, in some cases, even seconds. The constant stopping and starting in rapid succession adds extraordinary wear and tear on the compressor. This eventually leads to premature failure of the compressor as well as other A/C system components. In the meantime, your home won't cool as effectively as it ought to.
Potential Short Cycling Causes
There are several issues that could potentially be identified as the culprit behind your A/C system's short cycling woes:
- Oversized A/C system - An oversized A/C system may cool your home quickly, but it may also short cycle as it struggles to maintain your thermostat's temperature set point. This could add unnecessary wear and tear on your A/C system.
- Low refrigerant levels - Not having enough refrigerant in your A/C system could also lead to short cycling problems. In addition, you could also face frost buildup issues.
- Failed low pressure control switch - The low pressure control switch helps shut the compressor down in the event that your A/C system's refrigerant charge draws below sustainable levels. The failure of this switch could lead to short cycling.
- Bad thermostat placement - Mounting your A/C system's thermostat too close to the return air supply vent could trigger short cycling problems, since the thermostat may accidentally read the wrong temperatures due to its proximity to colder air.
Problem-Solving and Prevention
Fortunately, most short cycling problems can be solved with a bit of careful troubleshooting. For instance, short cycling problems related to refrigerant levels can be solved by tracking down and repairing refrigerant leaks. Your short cycling issues may go away as soon as you have your A/C system properly recharged by a trained HVAC technician.
Issues caused by a bad low pressure control switch usually go away as soon as the malfunctioning component is replaced. However, it's also good idea to thoroughly inspect other internal components for potential signs of malfunction or failure.
Short cycling problems caused by oversized A/C systems can be solved by reevaluating your home's cooling needs and installing an appropriately sized unit. You can choose the best A/C system for your home using the Manual J load calculation and Manual S equipment selection process.
If your short cycling problems are being caused by a poorly placed thermostat, relocating it away from return air supply vents and drafty areas could help immensely. Your HVAC technician can help select the best location for your thermostat as well as lend a helping hand in the installation process. You can even take this opportunity to have a programmable thermostat installed, if you haven't already done so.
Having your A/C system checked on a regular basis can help prevent short cycling problems before they have a chance to start. Regular checkups can also extend the life of your A/C system and promote better energy efficiency, allowing you to save hundreds of dollars on your cooling bills throughout its lifespan. Check out websites like http://www.belairplumbing.com for more information.