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Why Does My AC Turn Off After a Few Minutes?

Air conditioning fan

As we enter the scorching summer months in the Dallas Metro Area, staying cool means having a properly functioning air conditioning system. But what happens when your AC starts playing tricks on you and frequently turns off? This frequent on/off cycle is called short-cycling, and it’s something Dallas-area homeowners should know about. Here are the problems of AC short-cycling and its potential causes.

What Is AC Short-Cycling?

Is this a familiar story? Your air conditioner kicks on, providing some much-needed relief from the sweltering heat. But just as you begin to relax, it shuts off abruptly, leaving you sweating and puzzled. This repetitive on-off cycle, known as AC short-cycling, is not only annoying but also harmful to your cooling unit, and it’s a cause for needing air conditioning repairs.

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The Problems With AC Short-Cycling

Unfortunately, AC short-cycling is not just an inconvenience. It can also cause other problems, including:

  • Energy-efficiency loss: AC short-cycling leads to decreased energy efficiency because your unit has to constantly start and stop. This continuous cycling wastes energy, resulting in higher utility bills.
  • Reduced cooling performance: When your air conditioner doesn’t run long enough to complete a full cooling cycle, it fails to adequately dehumidify your home. Excess humidity can lead to a clammy, uncomfortable indoor environment and may even encourage mold growth.
  • Increased wear and tear: The frequent start-stop cycles put a strain on your AC system’s components. This strain can lead to premature wear and tear, reducing the life span of your unit and potentially resulting in costly repairs or replacements.

Common Causes of AC Short-Cycling

AC short-cycling can be a frustrating and concerning issue that disrupts your comfort and affects your HVAC system’s performance. Understanding why short-cycling happens is essential to solving the issue. Here are the primary causes of AC short-cycling that homeowners should know:

Dirty Air Filters

One of the most common causes of AC short-cycling is dirty air filters. Over time, the air filters in your HVAC system can become clogged with dust, dirt, and debris. When the filters get dirty, they restrict the airflow, causing the temperature to rise inside the unit. This triggers the AC to shut off as a safety measure to prevent overheating. Regularly cleaning or replacing your air filters is a simple yet vital AC maintenance task that can prevent short-cycling and improve the overall efficiency of your system.

Refrigerant Leaks

Another cause behind AC short-cycling is refrigerant leaks. Refrigerant is the substance responsible for absorbing heat from the indoor air and transferring it outside. When there is a leak in the refrigerant lines, the system loses its ability to cool effectively. The low refrigerant levels cause the AC to cycle on and off rapidly as it struggles to maintain the desired temperature.

Faulty Thermostat

A malfunctioning thermostat can also contribute to AC short-cycling. The thermostat acts as the control center for your HVAC system, signaling when to turn on and off based on the temperature settings you choose. If the thermostat is faulty or incorrectly calibrated, it may inaccurately detect the indoor temperature, leading to frequent on-off cycles.

Oversized or Undersized Unit

An improperly sized AC system can be a significant cause of short-cycling. If your unit is too large for the space it needs to cool, it will cool the area quickly and shut off prematurely. On the other hand, an undersized unit will struggle to reach and maintain the desired temperature, resulting in frequent cycling. A knowledgeable technician can assess your home’s cooling needs accurately and recommend the right-sized AC unit for optimal performance.

Blocked or Restricted Airflow

Restricted or obstructed airflow can force the AC system to shut off intermittently. Several factors can slow the airflow, such as blocked vents, closed or blocked registers, dirty or damaged ductwork, or a malfunctioning blower fan.

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Choose Total Air for AC Maintenance & Repairs

Total Air & Heat is your trusted partner for air conditioning services in Dallas and Plano, TX. With over 60 years of experience, we offer 24/7 emergency service, top-quality products, friendly and professional service performed by expert technicians.

Schedule your air conditioning appointment with Total Air by calling us at 972-881-0020 today.

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