5 Reasons To Take Note Of How Often Your Air Conditioner Turns On And Off

If you have a relatively new and well insulated air conditioner, you likely rarely hear the outdoor condenser switching on and off as it cools your house. However, cracking a window or heading outdoors to listen to the unit can pay off in a big way. An air conditioner that turns on and off rapidly is sending one of five important messages that shouldn't be ignored.

You Are Losing Freon

The short cycling problem often starts up because the tubes holding the refrigerant in your air conditioner have sprung a leak. As the gas escapes, the A/C either becomes too inefficient and overheats trying to cool the house or shuts off because the sensor notices the dropping levels of Freon. Getting the refrigerant levels tested could reveal your A/C is switching on and off because it's creating a serious pollution problem.

The Thermostat Needs Attention

The A/C unit outdoors only does what the thermostat inside the house tells it to do. When a damaged or incorrectly set thermostat starts sending the wrong messages, you end up with a system that turns on and off dozens of times per hour. Other signs of thermostat problems include

  • The air conditioner gets stuck on or off until you manually switch it to the other setting
  • You have to turn the settings down 5 or 10 degrees lower than you actually want the room
  • The blower fans work well manually switched on, but fail to turn on automatically when the A/C starts producing cold air

When you first notice a short cycling problem, adjust the settings a few degrees and see if that solves it. Bigger thermostat problems are still relatively easy to fix -- a service technician can check and replace the entire unit in under an hour, unlike many other parts of the A/C system. A bad thermostat puts a lot of wear and tear on your equipment and raises your energy bills while leaving you uncomfortable, so take the short cycling sign seriously even if it's just being caused by a faulty controller.

The Equipment Is Mismatched

Oversized A/C units don't provide more cooling and humidity control. In fact, the equipment works harder and produces a lot less effect when it is too big for the house. Extra large systems turn on and off rapidly because the unit wants to run constantly but overheats itself in the process and triggers an automatic shutoff until the equipment cools down again. If you're experiencing short cycling and very little cooling with a brand new A/C, you likely need to move a size down for better results.

You Are Heating Up

A/C units that keep clicking off again every few minutes do more than heat up the inside of your home. In fact, it is likely that your outdoor condenser is overheating and shutting itself off to prevent a meltdown. In many cases, the problem is as simple as some dead leaves trapped in the vents on the case and preventing airflow. Check the unit for obvious causes of overheating before calling a technician in case you can save yourself the maintenance fee by simply shutting off the A/C and cleaning the vents.

Parts Are Wearing Out

Finally, you should pay attention to short cycling no matter the cause because the practice always puts wear and tear on the equipment. Whether it's an electrical short or a Freon leak, the constant switching on and off of the condenser puts it closer and closer to a major malfunction that costs hundreds of dollars to repair. A little early inspection and maintenance goes a long way in keeping your A/C running with fewer big expenses. To have your A/C inspected, contact an HVAC company, such as Enright and Sons.