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The Start-Stop-Start-Stop Air Conditioner: What’s Going On?

AC-plastic-grateWhen you notice your air conditioner is turning on and off more frequently than usual—something that disrupts the standard steady sounds you expect during summer days—you’re right to believe there’s a problem. When an AC’s compressor only stays on for ten minutes or less before it shuts down, and then comes back on a short time later and repeats the same process, the air conditioner is short-cycling. This is a common trouble with central cooling systems, and it’s often difficult to detect the malfunction that’s at the root of it.

Short-cycling shouldn’t be allowed to continue. It puts an enormous amount of strain on the compressor, and if the compressor burns out it often means the entire AC must be replaced. The extra strain also means higher costs—an AC uses the most electrical power when it sends voltage to start the compressor at the beginning of the cooling cycle.

Why Is This Happening?

Short-cycling is a symptom of a range of different air conditioning troubles. To fix short-cycling usually requires AC repairs in Portales, NM from trained professionals. Below are the most common reasons for short-cycling:

  • Clogged air filter: This is a straightforward problem you can fix yourself. The air filter on the HVAC cabinet needs to be changed for a fresh one every 1 to 3 months, otherwise clogging in the filter will put extra stress on the blower fan that can lead to the system shutting off. Put in a fresh filter to see if this remedies the issue.
  • Low refrigerant charge: An air conditioner has a set charge of refrigerant that is supposed to last for the system’s entire service life. But leaks can lower the charge and put the air conditioning system in jeopardy. The compressor is designed to work with a specific charge, and when the charge drops the compressor is in danger of overheating. Short-cycling is one of the warning signs of possible refrigerant leaks that need attention from HVAC professionals.
  • Dirty indoor or outdoor coils: These sets of coils are where the air conditioner absorbs heat from inside the house and then exhausts it outside. Dirt, dust, mulch, and general grime block this process, and the overheated AC may begin to cut off its cooling cycles.
  • Electrical malfunctions: The majority of AC repairs are done to the electrical components. Anything from corroding wire connections to failing capacitors may trigger short-cycling.
  • Thermostat problems: The thermostat controls when the compressor turns on and off, so if it malfunctions, it can mean shutting the compressor off too early.
  • Oversized AC: If this is a new central air conditioner in your house, the short-cycling might be an indication it was incorrectly sized for the home. An overpowered AC will lower temperature so rapidly that the system will shut down prematurely. The only remedy for this is an AC replacement. Only trust professionals for your cooling system installation, since they’ll take the steps necessary to properly size it.

Rely on Mark Carpenter Plumbing in the Clovis, NM area. We don’t attempt to outbid our competition … we simply outperform them.

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