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Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. Blog

What You Need to Know about Air Conditioner Short-Cycling

Air conditioning season is getting into full swing, and that means more problems are likely to crop up. One of the most dangerous problems you are likely to run into is short cycling. Short cycling is when your air conditioner constantly turns on and off every few minutes. This locks the system into the startup cycle, which is the most stressful part of the air conditioner’s cycle. This will drastically increase the stress on the system, making a breakdown more likely and shortening the air conditioner’s lifespan.

It is important that you understand how and why this problem occurs so that you can have it addressed before it severely damages your cooling system. Let’s take a closer look at what causes short cycling.


There are two main causes for short cycling: thermostat problems and damaged compressors. Thermostat problems are commonly caused either by short circuits in the wiring between the unit and the air conditioner or by malfunctioning temperature sensors. Both can lead to short cycling, as they send conflicting signals to the air conditioner

The second common cause of short cycling is a damaged compressor. The compressor is a gas pump, designed to circulate refrigerant through the system. If this pump comes into contact with liquid refrigerant instead of gaseous refrigerant, it can break from the hydraulic pressure that is created. This will cause the compressor to malfunction, which throws off the rhythm of the entire air conditioner.

Preventing Damage

It’s very hard to predict when short cycling might occur in a system. Instead, you should be vigilant and try to have it repaired as soon as you notice it happening. This will be key to preserving the health of your air conditioner.

If your air conditioner is short cycling, call Sound Heating. We repair air conditioners throughout Tacoma, WA.

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