Is It Bad To Switch Back and Forth from AC to Heating

In New England, shoulder seasons like fall and spring bring unpredictable weather. It can be chilly in the morning, sweltering at noon, and frigid by sundown. This makes it hard to regulate the temperature in your home.  

To keep your family comfortable, should you blast the AC during the day and turn on the heat at night? Is this bad for your AC, and will it damage your heating system? 

Can You Switch Back and Forth Between AC and Heat? 

Many homeowners are concerned about breaking or wearing out the heating and cooling components of their HVAC system by switching back and forth. However, if done properly, this shouldn’t cause any problems. 

If you want to switch back and forth between your AC and heating, it is crucial to make sure you don’t short-cycle your cooling system. Short-cycling is when your AC turns on and off too quickly. It can’t properly cool down your home and can put unnecessary stress on your system. Short-cycling can cause higher energy bills and even trip your fuse or circuit breaker. 

How to Avoid Short-Cycling 

To avoid short-cycling, you must pay attention to your unit. 

If your unit is actively cooling your home because your thermostat is set to a lower temperature, you might be tempted to turn the thermostat up in order to shut the AC off but then quickly turn it back down again, which will turn the AC back on. This will potentially cause your compressor to lock up, so make sure not to do this. 

It’s also important not to do the opposite! Don’t turn the thermostat lower right after the unit finishes its cooling cycle, because the AC will immediately try to turn back on. However, it won’t be able to do so because the compressor will lock up due to not being able to equalize the pressure quickly enough. 

You can avoid short-cycling by keeping your thermostat turned off for 5-10 minutes after the AC unit shuts down. After this time period, the refrigerant pressure will equalize, and you can safely start another cycle. 

What Happens When a Compressor Locks Up? 

Your compressor might lock up if you put it in high pressure start-up conditions. Because your AC system draws a high amp rate when this happens, it can cause a breaker or fuse to blow. 

Some AC units avoid this by utilizing a timer created especially to prevent short-cycling. Your digital thermometer might also have built-in time delays to avoid the issue. 

What to Do If Your System Short-Cycles 

If your system shuts off and you think it might be due to short-cycling, the first thing you need to do is check your fuses or breakers. Go outside and check the outdoor disconnect for the AC unit, as well, because some have a separate breaker. 

If it seems like your breakers and fuses are fine, then your system may not have short-cycled. It could have another issue entirely, and it’s best to call an HVAC tech to check it out. They can let you know if it’s a quick fix or a bigger repair. 

Need a Repair or Maintenance Check? 

Switching back and forth between heating and cooling during the spring and fall is not necessarily bad for your HVAC system. But to make sure that they don’t become damaged, it’s important to have a qualified technician perform regular maintenance on your units. Call or email Evolved Mechanical to make an appointment today!