AC Compressor Shuts Off After a Few Seconds

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Nowadays, keeping an AC compressor running at home or in the office has become a norm. Climate changes have brought about huge differences, especially during the summer seasons.

However, while enjoying a cool breeze, sometimes you may experience a worse moment when your AC compressor shuts off after a few seconds. It’s called short cycling, and it pisses off when you have to suffer excessive heat.

An AC compressor or in full an air conditioner compressor is a mechanical device that compresses the refrigerants to cool down the hot air from the surrounding.

AC Compressor Shuts Off After a Few Seconds
Air conditioning

It reduces the air volume by compressing it and releasing it to cool the house.

On the other hand, short cycling is when the normal cooling cycle of your AC compressor shortens. It turns on and off prematurely, leading to inconsistent air temperatures in the home.

Although the short cycling problem may arise once in a lifetime, it may bring some problems with the home owners surviving on hard temperatures.

Additionally, turning on and off inconsistently can shorten the AC lifespan due to wear and tear. Unfortunately, even the electricity bills may be higher than usual.

To avoid unplanned repair costs and electricity bills, this article will educate you on the causes of AC compressor short cycling and how to solve it.

Reasons an AC Compressor Shuts Off After a Few Seconds

AC Compressor Shuts Off After a Few Seconds
Air conditioning

There are various reasons your Ac compressor shuts off every moment you decide to enjoy a cool breeze in the house. Although many homeowners normally experience this challenge, you can avoid it.

This article will frankly discuss reasons for short cycling and the appropriate methods to solve each challenge.

1. A Faulty Thermostat

Although a thermostat may seem to be a smaller and less valuable component of an AC, it controls the whole home temperature.

A thermostat senses the surrounding temperature and signals the whole system to regulate the set temperature.

For this reason, if a thermostat is faulty, it may send an inappropriate signal to the AC compressor system, confusing it. And the result is short cycling.

If you check the thermostat and notice its display screen is blank, the battery may be low. Replace the battery and restart the thermostat. If the problem isn’t solved, call a professional to diagnose it.

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AC Compressor Shuts Off After a Few Seconds
Air conditioning

2. Inappropriate Thermostat Location

As discussed earlier, the whole AC system relies on the thermostat for information to switch on or off to maintain the required home temperatures.

Unfortunately, if the thermostat is not installed in an appropriate location, it may not send accurate air temperature readings. To make your AC efficient, avoid installing the thermostat in the following areas;

  • Near a window – it senses already released air into the room as it gets out through the window, sending wrong readings.
  • Close to hot rooms like kitchen– a kitchen may be hotter than the surrounding environment. This brings wrong thermostat readings
  • Near the AC supply vents– avoid direct airflow to the thermostat.
  • Oversized AC Compressor

If the problem arises immediately after installing the AC compressor, it may be designed for a larger home than yours. Although it may seem fun to have a bigger AC, it can bring about problems.

A larger AC compressor cools your home faster and shuts off. As a result, you will experience short cycling leading to wearing out easily and higher electricity bills. 

Use an AC sizing calculator to determine the best AC compressor size for your home to avoid these challenges. On the other hand, you can have a professional advice you on the correct AC size to install.

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AC Compressor Shuts Off After a Few Seconds
Air conditioning

3. Clogged Air Filters

Air filters prevent dust and other debris from getting into the inner AC components. With time, if the filters are not cleaned, they may get blocked with dirt, and the AC strains to take in the air.

Afterward, the components overheat, which may cause the circuit breaker to trip.

Regularly check and clean your air filter. If your home is dusty, you will need to be keen on AC maintenance.

4. Dirty Condenser Coils

Condenser coils are located inside the inlet pipes. Due to exposure to the air, they may trap dust and other debris. As a result, the condenser tubes fail to trap heat from the inside air which overheats the inner components.

Clean the condenser coils regularly for your AC efficiency.

5. Refrigerant Leakage

An AC compressor contains refrigerant fluid that absorbs heat from the surrounding air before it is compressed. The fluid cycles through the system to ensure the air is cooled before being released to the rooms.

The system senses low pressure and shuts off if the refrigerant fluid is low. After staying off for some time, it senses pressure and turns on again. This brings confusion to the system leading to short cycling.

Mostly this challenge is experienced when there are leakages. Call a professional to fix the leaking lines.

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AC Compressor Shuts Off After a Few Seconds
Air conditioning

6. Frozen Evaporator Coils

Freezing of the evaporator coils is caused by leaking refrigerant.  When the AC runs, low pressure causes ice to accumulate. It turns off until the ice melts, and as a result, you experience short cycling.

When this problem occurs, you’ll notice;

  • Hissing noise from the AC
  • Cooling power loss

Check for any leaking refrigerant and inspect the evaporator coils if there is ice build-up.

7. Clogged Condensate Pipe

When the compressor absorbs moisture from the air, it drains its water through a condensate pipe.

If this pipe is blocked by dirt or debris, water may get back to the drain pan. And if the water gets to a certain level, it causes the AC compressor to shut off.

Locate the condensate pipe (a white PVC pipe), open its cap, and pour distilled vinegar inside. Wait for 30 minutes and flush the pipe.

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AC Compressor Shuts Off After a Few Seconds
Air conditioning

FAQs about AC Compressors

Why is My Window AC Not Cold?

The common cause may be poor ventilation. Check the air filter and the evaporator coil and clean or replace them. You may notice some ice in the coils because of low air which frosts inside the vents.

Where is the AC Reset Button?

It is located on the power cord plug next to the test button. But in some ACs, you may find it inside the bend service panel. However, when opening the AC to search for the reset button, ensure you’ve flipped off the circuit breaker to avoid shock.

How Do I Reset My Window Air Conditioner?

Most window air conditioners have no reset button. To fix it, unplug it for a few minutes to let the power dissipate. Afterward, plug back and turn the circuit on and the AC will reset.

It may be draining when your AC compressor shuts off after a few seconds before you enjoy the cool air in the room. But with the knowledge of the above short cycling causes and solving methods, your AC will have longer lifespan.

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