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Is it Normal For My Air Conditioner to Turn On and Off?

Jun 29, 2017 | Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning On and Off in Oregon

When an air conditioner (AC) turns on and off in rather quick successions, without running for longer periods, this is called short cycling. It’s fairly common, but when it happens it means there’s something wrong with the AC. Do not leave these occurrences alone. They will increase your energy costs, usually indicate a larger problem, and could lead to permanent damage of your unit, thus requiring a costly replacement. Short cycling also shortens your AC’s life span. Call a professional technician and have your unit inspected. Any one of our experts at West Mechanical can diagnose and repair this issue for you. Don’t delay. Call us at 360-734-7599, so we can get your AC back to its most efficient state for you.

While there are many possible reasons for short cycling, here are a few of the most common ones and what can be done to fix them.

Low Refrigerant

The coolant that flows through your system, helping to absorb heat and cool down the air inside your home, is called refrigerant. You may know it by its brand name of Freon®. When your refrigerant is low, the needed compressor-pressure levels are affected. This triggers your compressor’s low pressure control, shutting off your compressor. When the pressure rises and triggers your AC to restart, this causes the short cycling. If your refrigerant level is low, this indicates your have a leak, as refrigerant is cycled throughout the compressor, not burned off. Low refrigerant can also cause frozen coils. A professional technician can find your leak and prevent any further issues or damage.

Thermostat Location

Your thermostat acts as the sensor for your AC, telling it when to cool your home. If its location is not optimal, such as near a window or too close to a vent, your thermostat will be sending misleading information to your AC. Suppose your thermostat is in the direct line of a vent’s airflow. This will cause the thermostat to think it’s cooler in your home than it really is, and your AC will shut off thinking it’s reached its desired temperature. Since the cool air is no longer flowing through the vent, the thermostat realizes your home is actually still too warm and triggers your AC to start up again. This is short cycling. Be sure your thermostat is located in a central location away from direct sunlight and vents.

Dirty Air Filter

Dirty air filters are one of the most common and easily remedied problems with ACs we see here in Washington. The dirty filters restrict airflow, which in turn causes so many problems, one of them being a frozen coil. This can cause your AC to malfunction and short cycle. Be sure to change your filters regularly to avoid any issues.

Oversized AC

An AC unit that’s too large for your home short cycles, because it cools your home too rapidly while it doesn’t dehumidify it properly. So it’ll shut down and start up frequently. You’ll more than likely also find that your home has hot and cold spots, and you’ll experience higher energy bills. If your AC is newly installed, talk to the technicians who installed it to see what they can do to help you. Call one of our qualified technicians to do a Manual J heat load calculation to determine the proper-sized unit for your home.

Short cycling causes a whole host of problems with your AC, so if you notice your AC doing this, call one of our West Mechanical technicians to assess the situation. You want your AC to cool efficiently and to last for years to come. Short cycling will short change you.

We are proud to provide service to Bellingham, the San Jan Islands, Friday Harbor, Mt. Vernon and all of the surrounding communities, please call us for assistance. If you are not sure if we cover your zip code check out our zip codes page, our service area page or call us for more information.


With locations in Bellingham, WA and Friday Harbor, WA, West Mechanical Inc. proudly serves Blaine, Lynden, Ferndale, Burlington, Mt. Vernon, Everson, Sumas and the surrounding communities. Request service online today or call us at 360-734-7599.

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