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Why is my air conditioner turning off and on?

Air Conditioner Compressor

Why is my air conditioner turning off and on?






When the air conditioner is turning off and on every few minutes, this is called “short cycling”. It is an issue that can be very damaging to the compressor, which is the most expensive part of the air conditioning system.

There are three common reasons for the system to short cycle:

  1. Low Freon
  2. Thermostat in poor place
  3. Oversized unit

Low Freon

There is a device inside an air conditioning system called the low pressure control. It shuts the compressor off when the system is low on refrigerant. Being low on refrigerant means that there is more than likely a leak somewhere in the system. An leak that isn’t repaired can leak to large costs with having to constantly have Freon added to the system.

Thermostat in a poor place

The thermostat controls when your AC turns on. So if it is close to a vent then the cold air that hits it tells the thermostat that the whole house has reached the target temperature and tells the unit to shut down. Then, when the air around the thermostat warms up, it signals the unit to turn back on.

Oversized Unit

An air conditioning system that is too large for the home will cool too quickly, making it turn off and on more often than it should. This type of short cycling can cause further problems than just wearing out the compressor.

  1. Failing to adequately remove moister from the air – makes the home feel more humid and could cause mold growth.
  2. Higher power bill – With the air conditioner turning off and on so much it will increase the running time of the system and will increase the power usage.
  3. More likely to break down – short cycling causes the compressor and other vital parts to break down sooner due to excessive wear and tear.

All of these issues are easily fixed by a professional HVAC contractor. Need to have your air conditioner repaired?

Contact Air One Air Solutions Inc.

We offer free quotes and second opinions.


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