Why Does My Air Conditioner Turn Off By Itself?

An efficient aircon has to give you, a homeowner, a desirable cooling service for the longest time possible. But what happens if the AC’s run capacitor fails or the ac system doesn’t dispel your home’s hot air anymore? Unfortunately, a faulty ac system typically turns on/off when there’s a refrigerant leak, compressor failure, and many others, which we’ll discuss in this article.

What is Short Cycling?

Your cooling system absorbs and transports latent heat within and without the indoor ac system using refrigerant. The compressor condenses and circulates the refrigerant in the cooling system to various parts of your HVAC system.

The cooling process occurs when you turn on a compressor in a central air conditioner. Most air conditioning systems experience three cooling cycles in an hour during pretty hot days, each lasting about 10 minutes.

The cooling cycle means that your AC’s compressor runs for 10 minutes, stops for another 10 minutes then repeats the same cycle twice in a single hour.

Short-cycling happens if the cooling cycle shortens to less than 10 minutes, causing your compressor to start and stop more often than usual.

The unnecessary starts and stoppages add wear and tear to the AC’s compressor. Moreover, the wear and tear lead to unnecessary repair costs.

The Consequences of Short Cycling

Increased Humidity

Your HVAC unit wipes out humidity and heat from the house. Air remains inside when most ac systems experience short cycling; this can heighten condensation in particularly humid climates.

Higher Energy Bills

When ac systems work extra hard, you’re bound to pay higher energy bills. Something you don’t want to experience! A short cycling HVAC system uses excess energy compared to a well-functioning unit with less efficiency.

Wear and Tear

AC units have a fifteen to twenty-year shelf life, and when the ac system is short cycling for more extended periods, it wears down both the condenser components and the compressor.

Stopping/Preventing Short Cycling

A short cycling air conditioner can result from dirty/clogged air filters. So examine them. Believe it or not, clogged air filters can lead to several ac problems. It’s a good idea to assess and replace the air filters if dust or debris has caked them.

Check the AC Unit’s Thermostat Placement

It’s helpful to let an HVAC technician install a thermostat in a central place, for example, your home’s inner wall. Ensure the thermostat is far away from your HVAC system’s return air register to prevent it from giving out wrong readings because of the cool air’s influx.

Observe the HVAC Unit’s Refrigerant Levels

I’ll advise you to let an HVAC pro assess the refrigerant levels. Moreover, the HVAC pro can add more refrigerant if it’s not enough. The pro will also track down leaks in the unit.

Change the HVAC’s Low-Pressure Control Switch

If you are still dealing with an HVAC that’s still short cycling after trying out the above remedies, I would advise you to reach out to your HVAC service provider, who will replace the AC’s control switch with a new one.

Check the Compressor

A ceasing to function compressor may also display short cycling symptoms. So, it’s helpful to let an HVAC specialist check and replace the compressor if need be.

Reasons Why Air Conditioner Keeps Turning On and Off by Itself

1. Thermostat Issues

As a result of inaccurate temperature readings from your thermostat, the air conditioner turns on and off continually. If you notice the thermostat’s screen has faded or become blank, the cause may be inefficient batteries. The inaccurate thermostat readings will make the air conditioning unit start or stop when the batteries lose power.

2. Bad Thermostat Placement

Your air conditioning unit’s thermostat calculates the warm air and cool air around your home for purposes of determining when to start or stop the ac system. The thermostat in your HVAC system may communicate inaccurate information if you place it:

  • Near windows, making it vulnerable to direct sunlight
  • Close to rooms that are usually hot than the other rooms within your home, for example, kitchens or bathrooms
  • Beneath the supply ac vent located in your air handler

3. A Dirty/Clogged Air Filter

If air conditioning units turn on or off spontaneously, always open them up and check for clogged air filters. A dirty air filter restricts airflow within an air conditioner. The restriction, in turn, leads to a frozen evaporator coil, turning off the central ac system prematurely. Regularly clean the air filters in your HVAC system to prevent them from clogging.

4. Dirty Condenser Coils

If your outdoor ac system starts or stops and you have not been doing any maintenance on it for a few years, the chances are that the condenser coils have crusted in dirt or debris. The condenser coils in your air conditioner kick out hot air from your home. If you have coils clogged with excess dirt or grime, the air conditioner overheats and shuts down repeatedly.

5. Oversized Air Conditioner

An oversized air conditioner doesn’t have a suitable refrigerant cycle, and the chances are that it will have several problems, for example, blowing cold air quickly the shutting down immediately after starting. Blowing cold air might sound like something okay, but in reality, the cooling cycle in your homes is uneven. If your air conditioner goes through an on/off cycle every 10 minutes, its large size is the root cause.

6. Refrigerant Leak

When an air conditioner’s refrigerant line has inadequate refrigerant, the compressor malfunctions and shuts down because of low pressure; then, when the AC’s compressor is off, pressure increases again, leading to the air conditioner starting. The compressor’s pressure increase leads to massive wear and tear within your air conditioning system’s refrigerant line, resulting in damages or system failures in your air conditioner.

7. Compressor Failure

Similarly, when a refrigerant leak happens, if your air conditioner’s compressor overheats, malfunctions, or fails, it will make the ac shut down repeatedly if you notice the air conditioner compressor going off after 2 or 3 minutes of it operating. Then the air conditioner compressor is likely overheating or failing.

8. Frozen Evaporator Coils

A short cycling air conditioner may result from a frozen evaporator coil. Moreover, when evaporator coils freeze, air conditioners shut down until the ice melts.

9. Electrical Problems

Electrical problems in air conditioning units mostly lead to short cycling. Often, there might be a problem with its capacitor or electrical supply line, which may fail or break. But your ac system may also be experiencing electrical issues due to electrical connections within the system, the thermostat, or circuit boards.

10. Bad Run Capacitor

The run capacitor in your air conditioner gives it the initial energy boost it requires to start and provides it with continuous power to keep its system running. When the run capacitor becomes faulty, it may lead to an intermittent power supply in the air conditioner, which in turn causes the air conditioner to start and stop unexpectedly. If the ac system starts or stops after a few seconds, the air conditioner’s run capacitor is likely faulty, and you need to replace it soon.

11. Clogged Drain Line

Most air conditioners have safety features by the name “float switch” that shuts down your system if there’s improper water flow in the AC’s drain line. If you notice that the air doesn’t circulate when you put the thermostat settings to AUTO, and you’ve already ruled out electrical and thermostat problems, then a clogged drain line might be the problem.

how to Fix Air Conditioner Turning Off Repeatedly

• Try to restore the batteries or restart the thermostat on your aircon system. If none of the mentioned remedies fixes the air conditioning unit turns on/off menace, call an HVAC pro to diagnose your AC’s thermostat instead.

• Move the thermostat towards a central location.

• Assess and replace dirty/clogged filters

• Clean the condenser coils in the condenser unit or contact a local HVAC pro to perform routine central air conditioning system maintenance.

• Use an aircon sizing calculator to find out the AC’s size requirements or call an HVAC firm to carry out the installation.

• Contract an HVAC pro to assess and fix your AC’s refrigerant leaks.

• To prevent the compressor from wearing and tearing other AC parts, look for a local HVAC pro to assess and replace the compressor. Otherwise, some ac parts will degrade.

• Assess the outdoor aircon unit to see if there’s a trace of ice buildup after checking the filters, then it’s likely that the aircon has low refrigerant amounts.

• Call a skilled electrician since electrical issues are too complicated or dangerous to handle. Also, even if you’re an informed owner, don’t try to diagnose the electrical problems within your home.

• Reach out to a local AC pro to assess and replace the aircon capacitors. Moreover, if the ac capacitor isn’t operating properly, be ready to experience your AC’s parts degrading from intense wear and tear.

My Air Conditioner Keeps Turning Off and On by Itself FAQs

1. Why does my AC compressor shut off after 2 to 3 minutes?

If the air conditioner turns on/off repeatedly, observe the compressor; if it shuts off 2-3 while running, it may cause an entire system failure. Moreover, overheating contributes to system failure too.

2. How do I stop my air conditioner from turning off and on?

Your aircon unit can stop operating unawares if a fuse blows up or the circuit breaker trips. Hence, there’s no cause for alarm. It’s meaningful to recount that inadequate maintenance causes the most common aircon issues.

3. Why does my AC keep turning off after a few seconds?

It’s named short cycling because typically, the aircon has a usual on/off cycle that corresponds to the external temperature. Short cycling leads to wear on your external unit’s compressor. That isn’t good since the compressor is quite expensive that, if by bad luck it breaks, most homeowners will have to replace their entire external unit.

4. How do I stop my AC from short cycling?

  • Check your air filter.
  • Check the AC’s air vent. If need be, replace the air vents.
  • Check your AC’s thermostat placement.
  • Check the aircon’s refrigerant levels.
  • Replace the unit’s low-pressure control switch.
  • Check the compressor.

5. How often should my AC be turning on and off?

In mild weather, a well-sized and functioning ac unit runs in fifteen-minute cycles. Let’s say this is almost two to three times in an hour. If your aircon system operates for less than ten minutes in each cycle, then it’s likely that the unit is oversized or excessively huge for your home.

6. Why is my AC short cycling?

Often, short cycling is an indication of a problem your unit could be experiencing – this problem might be due to the following; oversized/undersized aircon, charge from leaks, or low refrigerant.


We’ve seen how thermostat issues, clogged filters, compressor failure, and electrical problems can force your ac system to turn off by itself. It’s sickening when an ac shuts on/off, especially when you need it the most. But the above tips I’ve given you will help you fix or prevent the short cycling issue in your unit. So, implement them!