Don’t Let Your AC’s Short Cycle Times Leave You Short-Changed

When it's in automatic mode, you're trusting your air conditioner to maintain the temperature you've set. It does this by cycling — turning itself on and off as needed to keep the temperature at your preferred level. But why does it seem to be constantly cycling — as though it's having difficulty maintaining its preset temperature?

Cycle Times

The cycle time for a residential air conditioning unit can vary. It depends on the size (and subsequent power) of the unit, the size and layout of your home (with layout influencing airflow), the quality of your home's insulation, and the outside temperature (with cycles taking longer during particularly hot weather). Rather than regularly happening several times per hour, it might seem as though your unit is cycling every few minutes. This is known as short cycling, and it can leave you feeling short-changed.

Risks of Short Cycling

Your unit's cooling cycle should also include a dehumidification process. The unit actively condenses water from the air extracted from your home. When the unit short cycles, this process doesn't have long enough to be efficient. Your home may still feel cool, but high levels of humidity (and its associated discomfort) can remain. Additionally, your electricity usage can begin to climb as the unit uses more power to maintain its basic operations. There's also the possibility of increased wear and tear on the unit's components as it constantly cycles. Short cycling is bad for your air conditioner and bad for your home. What can you do to prevent it?

Airflow Obstructions

You can start by seeing if you can make life easier for the unit. Short cycle times can be caused by obstructions to the unit's airflow. How long has it been since you cleaned the unit's air filters (located directly behind the wall-mounted vents)? Remove the filters, wash them in warm, soapy water, and allow them to completely dry before reinstalling them. You should also check that the unit's vents aren't blocked by furniture. Try operating your unit again to see if its cycling normalizes.

Thermostat and Unit Size

If this basic cleaning doesn't yield results, you'll need to call in an AC repair contractor. They'll start by checking that the unit's thermostat is properly calibrated. The setting you select may not be the setting that the unit is registering. Recalibration can properly align the thermostat with the unit's operation. However, your contractor may have some unwelcome news. It could be that the unit is simply too large for your home, and its seemingly short cycle times are as long as the unit needs to operate to chill your home. In some cases, the best way forward is to downsize your unit.

Don't let your unit's short cycling times leave you short-changed. This is an issue that needs to be dealt with as soon as it's noticed. If you need help with a short cycling unit, contact an HVAC company, such as Above Par Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC.