Is it Normal for My AC to Turn On and Off?
Your AC is clicking on and off, and that feeling of dread washes over you. Will you have to call for air conditioner repair?
Don’t panic. Bringing in the experts is not the end of the world. We’d love to see you and say hello!
But we know that you’d much rather feel confident that your system is working fine. To get that peace of mind, it’s helpful to know some basics about how air conditioners work. That way, you’ll have a better idea of what might be a cause for concern.
Central AC Units Turn On and Off Normally
Air conditioning systems regulate temperature by turning on and then turning off. The AC units that most people in Georgetown, Cedar Park, and Round Rock have are single-stage systems. That means that when your AC is operating, it’s giving 100% of its cooling power to the space. If your AC were to operate around the clock, it would just get colder and colder. The way your air conditioning keeps your home from overcooling is by shutting off for a period of time.
Here’s another way to think about it: imagine a car that has an acceleration pedal with only two options. The first option is to press the pedal straight to the floorboard (GO), and the other option is to not press the pedal (DON’T GO).
In the GO position, the car immediately speeds up to full power. To reduce the speed, the driver’s only option is to release the pedal (DON’T GO).
How can the driver maintain a speed of 40mph with only a GO and DON’T GO option? The driver starts by pressing the GO pedal, then releases the pedal. The driver waits until the car slows to 30mph, then presses the GO pedal to speed the car back up. Once the car reaches about 50mph, the driver releases the pedal to allow the car to slow again to the desired speed of 40mph.
Similarly, your AC turns fully on, then turns fully off, to regulate temperature in your home to your desired temperature setpoint.
At What Point Does an Air Conditioner Turn On?
Most AC systems have a preset range to know when the unit should turn on again. For example, if that range is 2 degrees Fahrenheit and your setpoint is 70F, then your air conditioner will cool until it senses the space at 69F. It won’t turn on again until it senses the space at 71F.
What is Short Cycling in Air Conditioners?
Short cycling is when your AC is turning on and off too quickly. In normal operation, air conditioning systems will turn on for about 10-15 minutes before turning off. Sometimes it will stay on for longer if it is a hot day, up to around 30 minutes.
If your air conditioner is turning on and off after just a few minutes (or seconds!) then it is short cycling. There are a few reasons this could be the case. There could be a weak or faulty power connection with the wiring.
Another problem could be with your thermostat, or the temperature sensor inside of it. Before calling in our team, check that your thermostat works as expected. You can also check to see if the space around your thermostat is experiencing any temperature swings. For example; is there a family member using a hair dryer near the thermostat? If so, see if the problem continues once that hairdo is perfectly coiffed.
My Central Air Conditioner Never Turns Off
After reading this article, you now know that it’s also not a good sign if your air conditioner is running constantly. One exception is if your home has a decentralized ductless HVAC system. Ductless mini splits run continuously; that’s normal.
If your central AC is running 24/7 without ever turning off, that’s a sign your unit isn’t capable of meeting the cooling requirements of your home. We may be able to resolve the problem with a maintenance visit. But more likely, your air conditioner is too small for your home.
Our comfort consultants at DTC can evaluate your AC and run some calculations and tell you for sure. Don’t wait to get this checked out. An air conditioner that runs all the time will have much more wear and tear at an earlier age; that means your AC will have a shorter lifespan and is more prone to breakdowns.
DTC is Georgetown’s AC Repair Expert
If your air conditioner isn’t functioning right, contact us right away. Short cycling is a sign that something is amiss! The sooner you take care of it, the better. You can always try our DIY troubleshooting tips. If that doesn’t work, call the HVAC contractor you can trust: DTC Air Conditioning & Heating. We’re the honest and affordable choice for quality air conditioning repair in Georgetown, TX and surrounding areas. Call us at 512-887-5091.
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