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Why Your AC Keeps Stopping and Starting

ac-with-toolsAir conditioning systems get to work early in the year in Southern California. Unfortunately, that means they’re also likely to start showing signs of malfunctions earlier as well—extra time for the stress to set in.

The best way to help protect your air conditioning system is the have it professionally maintained before the hottest weather arrives. Even the best maintenance can’t stop all problems, and in this post we’re going to look at one of the major malfunctions you may run into that’ll require you call for air conditioning repair in Orange County, CA in early summer.

The Stop-Start Problem Is Called “Short-Cycling”

When an air conditioner’s compressor comes on and off repeatedly over an hour, rather than going through cycles of fifteen minutes or longer, it’s said to be short-cycling. This is an HVAC industry term for when an air conditioning system is trapped in an abbreviated start-up cycle: the AC is not completing the full cooling cycle as it’s designed to … for some reason.

The difficulty with short-cycling is that “for some reason” includes many different possibilities, with sources ranging from minor (something that can be easily repaired without long-term system damage) to major (the air conditioner must be replaced). Here’s a brief breakdown of the most common causes of short-cycling:

  • Clogged air filter: A congested air filter that hasn’t been changed in months can trigger multiple problems, including short-cycling.
  • Thermostat troubles: When the thermostat misreads indoor temperature, it might begin prematurely shutting off the compressor. The thermostat may also be malfunctioning so it’s cutting off the cycle early. A technician can repair or replace the thermostat to fix this.
  • Leaking refrigerant: Loss of refrigerant in the air conditioner from leaks leads to many issues in an AC, eventually threatening the compressor with overheating. Short-cycling is often a symptom of this problem—check to see if the indoor coil is iced over, then shut off the AC and call for repairs immediately.
  • Poorly installed AC: If your air conditioner is new, short-cycling can be the bearer of some awful news—the air conditioner was badly installed and is overpowered for the house. This is, unfortunately, a common problem with unlicensed HVAC installation work. Only professionals can make an accurate assessment of the right size of AC for a house. In a case like this, you will need to have a new AC put in. Please call on licensed experts this time!

Never Delay Call for Help When Short-Cycling Starts

Short-cycling threatens your home comfort because the compressor won’t stay on long enough to cool all the rooms. But it also puts enormous strain on the compressor and other components because start-up requires more power than any other part of the air conditioner’s cooling cycle. If you let short-cycling continue, you’ll have higher bills and place the compressor at a major risk of failure. When you notice short-cycling, turn off the power to the AC at the circuit breaker panel and call our technicians for service.

Call Saddleback Plumbing for all your AC and plumbing needs. Proudly Serving Orange County Since 1981.

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