Why Does My Air Conditioner Keep Going On And Off (Short Cycling)

why is my air conditioner short cycling

Short cycling happens when your air conditioner runs for around two minutes, goes off and then comes on again after approximately two minutes. Though common, the nuisance will push your utility bills high or wear down the AC unit faster.

Understanding why your air conditioner keeps turning on and off will help you address the issue faster.

The causes could be diverse with modern systems being complex intelligent units bristling with multiple sensors, actuators, and software.

I’ve addressed the most common things you should first look at when troubleshooting short cycling.

Too big an air conditioner

Yes, there is such a thing as too big an air conditioner. You will notice the short cycling problem after installing a new unit. With a big unit, you will bring your home to the desired temperature faster.

Consequently, the system will have to shut down sooner. Matching your home to the AC size is the best way to avoiding this problem.

Dirty air filters

Most of the AC problems have a loose connection to dirty air filters. Air filters control airflow to the conditioner unit. Dirty filters will limit the flow making your unit’s coils to freeze up.

A coil freeze up means that the cooling or heating component of the unit is at a different temperature than the actual air flowing into your house.

This will make the air conditioner keep on going on and off as it tries to use subtle adjustments to get your house to the right temperature.

Leaked refrigerant

The refrigerant in your AC unit is responsible for the actual heat exchange. Raptured condenser coils could leak the fluid leading to adverse effects. As a result, the system won’t be as efficient in exchanging heat as it ought to be. The result? Erratic behavior and bigger utility bills.

Bad thermostat placement

Your digital thermostat is the heart of the air conditioning system. It tells it when to go on, and when to go off. If you are using one thermostat, like the Ecobee, for the entire house, you will have to find an almost central location that can get the overall mean temperatures the best way possible.

An alternative would be using multiple thermostats or opt for a unit that supports multiple satellite sensors to keep a tighter leash of different room temperatures.

Type of thermostat

Programmable or smart thermostats like this Honeywell model that works with Alexa that is yet to learn your schedule could result in the erratic air conditioner on and offs. This could also happen if you are dealing with a faulty thermostat that needs replacement.

Try putting the thermostat on manual mode and observe the results. If not changes, then your thermostat wasn’t the problem.

Uncleaned condenser coils

Regular cleaning of the condenser coils will ensure that the heat or cool the air appropriately. If they are dirty, the contact with the outside air is faulty and the unit will have trouble keeping a steady temperature to in your house.

The surest way to keeping your air conditioning from turning on and off every now and then lies in doing regular repair and maintenance.

Choosing the right thermostat for your home will also give you better control over the actual temperatures hence reducing any short cycling resulting from incorrect temperature readings.