Why Does My Air Conditioner Keep Turning On & Off?

Close-up view on air conditioner fan spinning

When temperatures rise and the summer heat hits, it’s important that your air conditioner is working at its best.

One of the most common AC problems our experts at Michael Bonsby HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical hear is, “My air conditioner keeps turning off and on!”

If you’ve become frustrated with your air conditioner randomly shutting off, call 301-990-7970 for professional AC repairs.

4 Common Reasons Your AC Keeps Turning Off

Short-cycling air conditioners, or when air conditioners constantly turn on and off, is a common issue our technicians see. ACs that shut off before reaching your thermostat’s temperature can be frustrating and expensive.

There are a few common reasons your AC might be turning on and off:

# 1: Your AC Compressor Isn’t Working Properly

The compressor is the engine of your AC’s refrigerant cycle and is responsible for generating the pressurized conditions under which the refrigerant absorbs and dissipates thermal energy. It’s often a sealed component so dust and debris can’t damage its internal moving parts.

But if it’s subject to overheating or has become worn out, it may indicate this by shutting off frequently.

An air conditioner’s compressor can break for several possible reasons, such as a blown fuse (commonly caused by the compressor tripping the breaker), a broken motor overload protector, or burnt wiring.

How To Fix AC Compressor Problems

You may be able to assess whether the compressor is broken by checking the condenser fan and the blower assembly. These parts are easily accessed, and if the compressor is operating correctly, the fans should be in perfect motion when the AC system is running.

Troubleshooting an AC compressor on your own is a little outside of most homeowners’ skill sets. Accurate inspections and testing require specific tools and professional training.

If you have a broken AC compressor, contact Michael Bonsby HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical today.

#2: Your Air Conditioner Is Low on Refrigerant

Lower refrigerant levels are a common reason why air conditioners keep turning off in the summer. As such, AC refrigerant leaks should be dealt with immediately.

The refrigerant levels in your AC need to be consistent for it to work properly. When you scheduled AC installation, your unit was given a certain “charge,” but if the refrigerant level falls below this, it can lead to inadequate cooling and energy inefficiency.

How To Fix Low Refrigerant Levels

Air conditioner refrigerant levels typically drop due to a leak. Refrigerant doesn’t expire, nor does the operation of your system expend any amount of it.

If you have low refrigerant, it means there’s a leak somewhere in the system, either within the refrigerant lines or via a cracked cylinder. This means you’re going to need to call for professional AC repair.

#3: Your Air Conditioner’s Coils Are Frozen

An air conditioning unit’s evaporator coil is in the indoor air handler and is responsible for cooling the warm air drawn from inside your home.

But if you have a clogged air filter or some other airflow issue, then frost can build up on your evaporator coils. This can cause your system to shut off frequently. If your air conditioner freezes, call us for repairs.

Prevent & Resolve Frozen Coils 

The best way to deal with frozen evaporator coils is by preventing them altogether whenever possible. Much of the time, this is simple to do.

Routine AC maintenance, both professionally administered seasonal maintenance and things you can do on your own, will keep your system clean of debris. Airflow clogs are the leading cause of evaporator coil freezing, so be sure to:

  • Change your air filter every one to two months.
  • Keep supply and return vents clean.
  • Schedule AC maintenance every year.

#4: Electrical Problems With Your Air Conditioner

Electrical complications are among the most common reasons for an AC shutting down suddenly — these incidents are often accompanied by the air conditioner causing a breaker trip, though not always.

Your air conditioning system uses quite a few electrical systems, each one of which can experience loose connections, bad wiring, and failures.

Resolving Electrical Problems in Your Air Conditioner

You should never try to troubleshoot AC electrical problems on your own. At this point, you’re getting into some risky stuff, and it won’t do to become injured just because you were curious about trying to reseat an electrical connection.

You might try resetting your breaker to ensure this wasn’t a one-time event, but if the breaker trips again, it’s time to call an HVAC company for repair.

Schedule AC Repairs in Howard & Montgomery County, MD

These are just a few common causes of your AC turning on and off frequently. If you think your AC has these or other issues, it’s likely time to schedule a repair. Remember — all AC repairs should be carried out by a professional.

Contact us today if you need AC repairs in Washington, DC, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Potomac, Clarksburg, or other nearby areas in Montgomery County, MD.

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