Air Conditioner Short Cycling Troubleshooting Tips

air conditioning repair

Air conditioner short cycling is a common problem that can occur over the summer months. What is short cycling and why does it happen? Welsch Heating & Cooling tells you more about this HVAC issue, provides tips for air conditioner short cycling troubleshooting, and explains when you should call us for help with this air conditioning system malfunction.

Why Do Air Conditioners Short Cycle?

Air conditioner short cycling is when your air conditioning system cycles on and off too frequently. The average air conditioner cycle should last about 10 minutes, maybe a little longer if it is extremely hot outside. If your air conditioner cycles for only a few minutes or less before shutting off again, then you may be experiencing short cycling.

If not addressed quickly, short cycling can result in more issues developing like poor temperature control in your home, excess energy consumption, and more wear and tear on your air conditioner which often results in more breakdowns and even the need for early system replacement.

Causes of Air Conditioner Short Cycling

There are several common causes for your ac unit to short cycle, which include:

  • A clogged air filter can cause the air conditioner to short cycle because of limited airflow. This causes the air conditioner to overheat, which in turn causes it to cycle off.
  • Low refrigerant can be caused by a leak in the system. When the refrigerant is low, the compressor has to work harder to keep up with demand, which can lead to overheating and short cycling.
  • Frozen evaporator coils can cause the air conditioner to short cycle because they prevent the unit from cooling properly and cause it to overheat, which in turn causes it to cycle off.
  • An oversized air conditioner can cause problems because they cool the home too fast. The quick sequence of startups and shutdowns consumes excess electricity and does not properly remove the humidity from the home.

Troubleshooting Tips For Stopping A Short Cycling System

If you notice this problem, there are some air conditioner short cycling troubleshooting tips you can try to fix your cooling system’s operation. Not all causes of short cycling are able to be corrected through DIY methods, but short cycling related to a dirty air filter or frozen coils are common easy fixes.

  • Whenever you notice your cooling cycle is short, the first of our air conditioner troubleshooting tips you should try is an air filter change. Check the condition of the filter and replace it with a new one if the existing filter’s surface is dirty. Simply changing the filter can help fix the issue and improve your system’s efficiency. If you’ve already changed the filter and the problem persists, it’s time to move on to troubleshooting.
  • The next of our air conditioner short cycling troubleshooting tips involves frozen evaporator coils. If you notice short cycling, shut the air conditioner down and open the access panel on the indoor unit to check the coils. If there is frost or ice buildup on the coils, keep your air conditioner off and let them thaw. Turning the blower fan ON at the thermostat can help speed up the process by continuously circulating warmer air over the coils. Frozen coils are often caused by a dirty filter or a lack of airflow, so at this time check your filter and change it.

An HVAC Technician From Welsch Can Help Stop AC Short Cycling

If these air conditioner short cycling troubleshooting tips don’t stop the problem, it’s time to call in a professional. Our HVAC professional technicians have the expertise and tools to diagnose and fix short cycling issues related to oversized AC systems, low refrigerant, electrical problems, and other advanced causes. Correcting short cycling may require electrical repairs or replacing components, fixing refrigerant leaks and recharging the system, or replacing an oversized unit with one that is the correct size.

Call Welsch for Air Conditioner Repairs in St. Louis

Air conditioner short cycling can be a big inconvenience, but it’s not something you need to live with. With these air conditioner short cycling troubleshooting tips, you may be able to identify and fix the issue so you can get back to being cool and comfortable. If you’re still having problems after trying these air conditioner short cycling troubleshooting tips, call Welsch Heating & Cooling for air conditioner repair today.


We called Welsch to provide a second opinion after another service provider recommended a new furnace. The technician was not only professional, prompt and courteous, he was unbelievably thorough! He insisted on combing through every aspect of our furnace to diagnose a problem, and found one in the most unlikely...

Lynn P.

They installed a new furnace and a-coil for us. The installers were very professional and did a great job.

Mike S.

Lost air conditioning on Labor Day weekend when it was high 90’s. They actually came out on Labor Day and found the problem. It was the blower on the furnace. Serviceman recommended that I replace the furnace, which I did. The cost to put in a new blower was almost...


Just sending a note of thanks for a job well done with the furnace and air conditioner replacement at my home.  I appreciate your efforts on the sales side of this project.  I also want to thank the men for the professional installation.  They were prompt, friendly, informed and answered all of...

Tom P.

We have radiant floor heat, but added a heat pump. We also needed a new AC. Job took 2 days, since it was such a big job. Very professional & friendly gentleman we had come work. Even had a few new vents put in. The AC has never been cooler...

Brenda S.

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