When your air conditioner starts turning itself off and on in short bursts, this can be a sign of something wrong with your air conditioner. While at first it may not be doing any harm, this "short cycling" can quickly wear out expensive parts, and it can also cause your energy bills to be higher because it is running less efficiently. While some causes are minor, they should all be fixed quickly to avoid damaging your air conditioner unit.
Freezing Evaporator Coils
Your evaporator coils are responsible for transferring the hot air from inside your home outside. During this process, moisture is removed from the air, and that moisture collects on the evaporator coils and drips down to drain harmlessly away. However, sometimes the moisture freezes instead of dripping away, and this can cause your air conditioner to shut down. This can happen for a few reasons:
- Dirty air filter: A dirty air filter restricts air flow, and without enough air flow, the coils can start to freeze. Replace your air filter regularly (even other month during periods of high use) to avoid this problem.
- Low Refrigerant: Low refrigerant can also cause your coils to freeze because your system needs a certain level of refrigerant in it. Refrigerant is re-used – it doesn't get used up with time – so if your refrigerant levels are low, look for a leak instead of just adding more refrigerant.
It's sometimes possible for the root of your whole problem to be in your thermostat, which can be good news for your repair budget. There are two main possibilities here:
- Thermostat positioning: Your thermostat directs your system to turn off and on based on the temperature of its surroundings. If your thermostat is positioned under a vent, the cold air blowing over it could fool it into thinking your house is already cool enough to turn off your system. If it's exposed to direct sunlight, this can also trick its temperature gauge. You can have the thermostat moved or buy a wireless thermostat for a little more.
- Faulty thermostat: Thermostats can sometimes break or start acting strange, and the best way to fix this problem is to have a technician examine it to see if it can be repaired or decide that it needs to be replaced.
Wrong-Sized Air Conditioner
If you started having this problem after you purchased a new air conditioner, or if it has been a constant problem in a new home, your air conditioner may simply be designed for a bigger house. Though it cools your house down faster, it results in short cycling (which can quickly wear out the compressor), doesn't remove as much moisture and results in higher energy bills.
To help choose an air conditioner of the right size, you can use a chart that shows you the rough BTU capacity you need for the square footage of your home. To get a rough estimate of the area that needs cooling, multiply the length and width of every room to get its square footage, then add your totals together.
It may seem pricey to replace your air conditioner, but if the one you have keeps short cycling because it's too large, odds are good you would have to replace it soon once the compressor breaks anyway.
To learn more, contact an air conditioning service company like Arendosh Heating & Cooling.