One of the most common and harmful troubles an air conditioner can encounter is a condition called short-cycling. It’s both a symptom of a problem and a problem itself. Although sometimes a few simple adjustments may fix short-cycling, if the root cause is serious it requires a professional HVAC technician to do the repairs. Unless short-cycling is stopped, it will eventually lead to an early replacement for an air conditioner and waste enormous amounts of power until then.
The Brutal Facts of Short-Cycling
The phrase short-cycling is HVAC-speak for when an air conditioner (or heat pump) becomes caught in the start-up cycle and turns on and off repeatedly without completing the cooling cycle. Under normal conditions, an AC powers up the compressor and runs until the thermostat registers it has met the temperature request. The AC then powers down the compressor. A short-cycling AC will prematurely stop the compressor before the end of the cooling cycle, and then start up again a short time later. When the compressor is turning on and off multiple times an hour and the compressor runs for less than 15 minutes at a time, the AC is short-cycling.