My Air Conditioner Stops and Starts (Why?)

What does it mean when an air conditioner stops and starts without fully cooling your home? This is a common HVAC system problem, known as short cycling. Short cycling also affects other HVAC equipment such as heat pumps and furnaces. Short cycling greatly impacts comfort levels within your Inland Empire home, creates higher energy bills plus more wear and tear to your system.

Sanborn’s discusses some common causes of air conditioner stop and start short cycling and what to do to stop this harmful problem. For reliable air conditioner repair to diagnose and solve short cycling, contact us today.

Short Cycling – When Air Conditioners Stop and Start Too Often

The air conditioner stops and starts problem ends a cooling cycle too early. This issue is called short cycling. Short cycling forces the air conditioner to run cycles quickly, ending them before the home is properly cooled. 

When the air conditioner stops and starts problem happens over and over again, you lose energy efficiency. This frequent cycling also strains system components, contributing to excess system wear and tear.

Why an Air Conditioner Stops and Starts a lot

Short cycling is caused by a few different air conditioning system issues. Here are the common causes of the air conditioner stop and start problem and how you need to address it to prevent further discomfort and damage.

  1. Low refrigerant
  2. Dirty filter
  3. Ice on the coils
  4. Over or undersized HVAC equipment

Short Cycle Reason: Low Refrigerant Due to a Leak

Air conditioners need the correct amount of refrigerant to properly cool a home. When there’s a leak and refrigerant escapes the system, it stresses system components. The stress on components, such as the fan motor, trigger safety measures to shut down the AC system. 

What to do: Call your HVAC company to schedule air conditioner repair. To hold a proper refrigerant charge, a tech must identify the source and repair the leak. HVAC technicians are properly trained in the safe handling of refrigerant and how to safely recharge your AC system. Because refrigerant is toxic, we discourage homeowners from attempting this AC fix. 

Short Cycle Reason: Dirty Filter Obstructs Airflow

A dirty filter prevents air from properly moving through the air conditioning system. Reduced airflow forces the air conditioner to work harder, stressing the compressor and blower motor. When these components overheat, the system must shut down, resulting in a short cycle. 

If you ignore an air conditioner that stops and starts due to a dirty filter, you risk permanent damage or major air conditioner repairs.

What to do: Check your furnace filter – if it is covered in contaminants, replace it with a new filter. See if the filter change stops the short cycling. If short cycling persists, call your HVAC company.

Short Cycle Reason: Ice Forms on the HVAC Coils

Evaporator coils remove heat from your indoor air. When this component is neglected, dirt and debris stick to the coil’s surface. This reduces efficiency and forces the air conditioner to work harder to do its job. The coils develop ice and freeze up, which prevents the air conditioner from correctly cycling. 

What to do: If you see ice on your evaporator coils, shut down the air conditioner and allow them to defrost. Call your HVAC company to diagnose the issue causing the frozen coils. There are a few different reasons for frozen coils, including airflow obstructions and an AC unit too big for the home.

Short Cycle Reason: An Oversized or Undersized AC Struggles to Cool Effectively

An air conditioner too big for the home brings interiors to the right temperature fast, then shuts off. It starts and stops frequently, which produces higher energy bills and increased system wear and tear, as well as uneven cooling. 

If the AC is too small, it will keep running until the blower motor begins to overheat. This causes it to shut down before it fully completes cooling the whole home. Over time this stress ages your air conditioner. An air conditioner which stops and starts creates conditions for major repairs and even breakdowns. 

What to do: The solution here is to replace your current air conditioner with a properly-sized AC unit. Your HVAC company performs the correct cooling load calculations to determine the right size AC unit or heat pump for your home. 

For example, we carry a full line of energy-efficient Daikin air conditioners and heat pumps. We’re happy to work with you and find the right air conditioning system to fit your home, energy goals and budget. We also offer HVAC financing!

Call Sanborn’s When Your Heat Pump or Air Conditioner Stops and Starts

Don’t let your Inland Empire air conditioner short cycle through the rest of summer. It will increase your energy bills and leave your family uncomfortable. 

Call Sanborn’s today to schedule air conditioner repair. Our NATE-certified HVAC technicians diagnose the cause and perform repairs to fix the problem. 

Sanborn’s covers the San Bernardino and Riverside county areas including Fontana, Beaumont, Banning, Moreno Valley, Calimesa, and Yucaipa, California. Our HVAC technicians also serve homeowners in East Highland, Loma Linda, Rialto, Redlands, and Grand Terrace, California.