You are currently viewing 5 Reasons to Consider Short Cycling is Bad for the Air Conditioner & Fixes

5 Reasons to Consider Short Cycling is Bad for the Air Conditioner & Fixes

The air conditioner at your home goes through a lot of wear and tear throughout the year. This can lead to issues like refrigerant leaks, failed capacitors and even ruptured air ducts. Fortunately, some of the repairs have pretty simple fixes. 

But, there is one issue that natural wear and tear should not lead through and that’s short cycling. This is one of the common problems and also threatening to your air conditioner. Short cycling is both the symptom as well as the cause of more problems. 

Most times, you can simply change the air filter to fix it, but in other cases, you need professional help. Over here, we will discuss what this short cycling is and why it is considered bad for the AC. 

Basic Facts about Short Cycling

When your air conditioner gets caught in the startup cycle and turns on and off repeatedly lacking the completion of the cooling cycle, this is termed short cycling. Generally, under normal circumstances, the AC powers the compressor and runs till the thermostat registers the required temperature. Then, the AC powers down the compressor. 

But, in short-cycling, your air conditioner will prematurely stop the compressor before the cooling process ends. Then, again start the process within a short interval of time. As the compressor is turning on and off rapidly, henceforth damaging the system. The continuous powering on and off leads to a negative effect on the parts of the AC. 

There can be a number of possibilities that cause this short cycling of the air conditioner. Some possible causes are a clog in the air filter, an oversized or undersized air conditioner, low refrigerant, leak ventilation, incorrect thermostat temperature etc. Thus, it is very important to get proper assistance immediately when you notice your system is short cycling.

Why did You need to stop Short Cycling?

Short cycling not only warns of an issue happening within your air conditioner but also stops the compressor. This shortens the service life of the AC. When the compressor starts, the AC uses the most energy. Henceforth, if the system is stuck in a continual startup process, it uses a greater amount. Thus, compressors come across with more wear and tear. 

This can even cause overheating and burnout. The cost of replacing a burnt-out compressor is much higher. It would be better to replace the entire air conditioner. If you observe that a compressor stops before completing the full cooling cycle. 

Then, it might be possible to have enough time to cool your entire house. This draws the conclusion that if you hear short cycling or unpleasant noises, it means that it is in serious condition. Ignorance can let to serious issues. 

Reasons Behind Short Cycling

Like most appliances, the air conditioner needs to use the most energy when the compressor runs first. Whereas under normal conditions, this extra energy does not count too much. But, in a short cycling system, the compressor constantly starts up, which means the AC unit is drawing more energy. 

We have discussed the reasons why you are facing short cycling. Hopefully, this will be beneficial for you. 

  1. Dirt in the Air Filter

It might be possible that your AC system won’t get enough airflow due to dirt and clog on the air filter. This improper airflow makes the heat grow in the system, thus leading to overheating. This overheated system shuts down before the cycle ends, preventing further problems. 

  1. Unit Size is Improper 

In case your AC is not in the proper size for your home’s cooling needs, you might face a short cycle. For example, if the unit is small compared to your house, it will keep cycling until it meets the demand. Or, if the system is too large, it will cool and heat your house too quickly. Henceforth, turn off the unit before it reaches the ideal temperature to avoid excess heating or to cool your house. 

  1. Leak Refrigerant 

The refrigerant is a close loop that cools the hot air and releases it outside. When leaks are in the refrigerator, the loop does not contain enough pressure to cool hot air efficiently. The system has to work harder to cool hot air with less refrigerant than it demands. When the unit collects the hot air inside the unit and refrigerant decreases, it will short cycle. 

  1. Electrical Issues

When the units start to show wear and tear. The electrical components might become faulty and loose. This improper connection can prevent the heating or cooling cycle from completing. The thermostat may be the cause of AC short cycling. Not putting the thermostat into the correct mode or temperature can be the lead cause of AC issues. In other cases, you might observe a need for thermostat calibration. 

  1. Frozen Evaporator Coils

Due to lack of maintenance can lead to dust and dirt accumulation on the evaporator coil and the air filter. Usually, the unit tries to cool your home, but the dust layer makes it difficult for it to absorb heat from the air. Thus, instead of cooling air, the condensation freezes the coil. In such a situation, the unit can no longer cool the air. It may short cycle or stop working at all. 

Common Troubleshooting of Short Cycling

There are cases of short cycling that can be solved with easy fixes. Other issues like incorrect unit size, refrigerant leakage, etc., demand professional help. If the short cycling issue is due to an air filter or a frozen evaporator coil, then below are the troubleshooting to help you out.

Replace the Air Filter

If you see that a clogged air filter is the main reason for AC short cycling, then the easiest way to fix this is by turning off the air filter and replacing it. You need to replace the air filter with a new one. 

If you have a reusable air filter, wash and dry it thoroughly before installing it. For long-term prevention, change the air filter regularly or due to scheduled routine maintenance to get rid of severe dust and debris buildups. 

Defrost Coils

First, you need to turn off the system and then inspect the evaporator coils inside the unit. In case you notice ice, then you need to defrost it. The water will be collected in the drain pan and then will drain outside. Finally, leave the coil to the professionals so that they can clean it.  

Contact the Experts

After attempting the fixes, you still face short cycling, then which is an indication of a more serious issue. You need to contact your local AC company and hire a technician who has the proper tools and expertise you need. If the technician suspects any short cycling, they will replace it with the proper size. 

Replace the Low-Pressure Control Switch 

If you are dealing with short cycling symptoms, then it would be better to take help from the experts. With their help, you can replace the low-pressure control switch. Further, self-doing can damage the air conditioner more. 

Check the Refrigerant Level

It will be worth checking the air conditioner’s refrigerant level. You may do it by yourself, but we suggest you hire professionals. If necessary, they will add more refrigerant. They will track down if there are any leaks or not.  


So, this was all about why short cycling is bad for your air conditioner. Starting from some basic facts till the fixes about short cycling are given. If you face a problem while fixing the issue, then take professional help. Hopefully, the above-discussed topics will be helpful.