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AC turning on and off
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It’s not entirely odd to encounter an AC turning on and off frequently. Like any other common problem of the AC, it cannot only be irritating – it can also be costly on your power bill. 

This problem might be caused by a usual issue called “short cycling.” Even if most homeowners experience it, it does not necessarily mean that you can merely ignore it.  An early diagnosis to address the problem is the safest way to save yourself from further hassle and torment of the scorching heat. 

Lucky you, short cycling might be an easy-peasy fix! Below, we narrowed the list to the most common reasons your AC behaves this way, along with a few of the best recommendations on how you can address them.

1. Thermostat Problems

Although it seems like the thermostat is just a tiny component of your AC system, it may be the culprit behind the short cycling. 

Think of it as a right-hand advisor of your AC. The thermostat’s decisions determine whether the system will turn on and off based on the temperature sensed. If the thermostat fails to discern the temperature accurately, it might start to liaise misinformation which can signal the whole AC system to turn on and off frequently. It might be a factor that your thermostat lies near a window with direct sunlight or an air vent since this stirs confusion in detecting the actual temperature of your home. Given such conditions, your AC turning on and off frequently will be a probable result. 

You also want to check in if your thermostat is losing power. A fading or blank screen might indicate that the batteries are already running low. If this is the case, you can expect your AC to turn on and off continuously. 

Recommended Actions to Fix: Place your thermostat where your home temperature is detected accurately. You have to make sure that you put it away from sunny windows or areas where it might receive direct airflow. Should the issue be the power running out, battery replacement is the key.

2. Filthy Condenser Coils 

If you haven’t had your AC maintenance performed for quite some time, you might want to check your condenser coils as the problem might lie within them. These copper coils are located inside the outdoor AC unit and hold the refrigerant in a liquid state. 

Should these coils be possibly caked with an accumulation of too much dirt and grime, your AC system can overheat. Overheating can therefore lead to the AC turning on and off frequently. 

Recommended Actions to Fix: Rid your condenser coils of dirt that piled up. If you are uncomfortable cleaning it, it might be an excellent time to give a call to the HVAC professionals in your area to do it for you.

3. Dirty Air Filters

Oh, the trouble that one gets with a dirty air filter! Aside from the fact that dirt clogs and restricts the airflow on the AC system, this congestion can also cause many other issues – short cycling included.

A clogged air filter can lead to frost building up on the evaporator coils. Evaporator coils function by cooling down the warm air that it draws from the inside of your home. When this happens, short cycling occurs. The unit will start to malfunction by having quick bursts of shut down. Hence, giving you an AC turning on and off frequently.

Recommended Actions to Fix: Clean your air filters often, and replace them regularly. Doing so helps you solve short cycling and enables you to avoid future problems in your AC system. Should short cycling persist, you may want to consult with a professional to check your AC’s internal equipment. 

4. Problematic Compressor

The compressor functions by creating pressurized conditions in which thermal energy dissipates to cool your household. Frequently, this part is a sealed component to avoid debris from damaging it. 

Notice your compressor shutting off with just 2-3-minute intervals? Chances are it is starting to fail imminently. If the compressor overheats, is worn out, or malfunctions, this can result in an AC turning on and off frequently. It is a factor that you have to consider when ruling out the cause of the constant shut down of your unit.

Recommended Actions to Fix: Consult with your trusted AC professional to check and diagnose if your compressor has any issues. Doing so will help you alleviate the problem and, at the same time, prevent any further damage to the other parts of your AC system. 

5. Refrigerant Issues

If your AC system constantly powers on and off, you also want to check if you are dealing with refrigerant issues. Refrigerants are the coolants in an AC system. They function by absorbing heat and cooling the air inside your home. They regulate internal pressure and temperature.

A refrigerant leak or insufficient refrigerant levels can cause short cycling. Small holes in the system cause the refrigerant to flee. And once the AC is running low on refrigerant, the compressor starts to crash because of low pressure, and it immediately shuts down. Once the compressor is off, pressure will build up again, turning the unit back on. As a result, it leaves you with a cycle of your AC turning on and off frequently.

Aside from causing poor cooling performance and inefficient energy use, this potentially leads to wear and tear on your AC unit. If left unaddressed, this can result in system failure.

Recommended Actions to Fix: Refrigerant leaks can be hazardous if ignored. It is imperative to contact and seek help from an AC technician to diagnose and address the leak. 

Is your AC still turning on and off frequently?

  1. Tried the quick fixes, and yet the problem remains unresolved? Phew, we do feel your frustration! If you have done your part in doing your research and applying what you’ve learned, then it’s time to sit back and leave it to the hands of the experts. We highly recommend entrusting your AC system to a professional who can diagnose and solve the problems before it leads to further complications. Aside from saving you time and money, you are sure that they know what they do and have the right equipment to fix the issue. Nothing’s more worth it than not worrying about thinking if you are doing more harm than good! 
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