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What Is Short Cycling and Why Is My System Doing It?

You may have heard about HVAC systems short cycling and that it’s a problem for your equipment. Learn what short cycling is and the reasons your Green Bay, WI HVAC system may be running inappropriate cycle lengths.

Defining a Short Cycle

Your HVAC system should run heating and cooling cycles that last 15 to 20 minutes. It’s called short cycling when your system shuts off after running only 5 or 10 minutes. The result of this phenomenon is that your system fails to cool or heat your home properly. It also causes excessive strain on your HVAC equipment.

Restricted Airflow

Restricted airflow prevents the system from transferring heat to or from the circulating air. Whether you’re running your heat or air conditioning, this causes the system to trigger safety switches and shut down. Once the temperature equalizes, it will start back up, only to quickly shut down again.

Low Refrigerant

When you’re running your air conditioner, low refrigerant can be a primary cause of short cycling. Without enough refrigerant, your system will freeze, causing the safeties to trigger. It may take a while for these freezes to clear, but they will come back shortly after the system tries starting again.

Oversized System

Getting the right sized system is imperative for heating and cooling your home effectively. An oversized system has too much heat transfer capacity for the space. For your heating, this causes the system to overheat and shut down. Conversely, it causes a freeze for the AC. In either case, the system shuts down prematurely, failing to complete its job.

Improper Thermostat Placement

You may not know it, but your thermostat’s placement is critical for keeping your system running properly. Placing it directly in the airflow of a supply vent causes the system to short cycle on both heating and cooling. In both cases, it registers the set temperature before the air in your home has circulated to create an even temperature.

Mechanical Issues

There are plenty of mechanical issues that can cause the system to short cycle. For your air conditioning, one of the common culprits is a malfunctioning compressor. For your heating, it could be something as simple as a heat sensor that needs replacing. Work with an experienced technician to make sure you get the problem properly diagnosed.

Neglected Maintenance

Your entire system needs routine maintenance to reliably heat or cool your home. Neglected maintenance leads to a buildup of contaminants on components like the evaporator coil and heat exchanger. Both of these can trigger safety switches due to overheating or coil freezes.

Don’t let short cycling cause you to freeze over the cold Green Bay winters or roast during the summer. Call to schedule your heating or AC repair with the expert technicians at Nicolet Heating & Cooling today.

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