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Why Is My Air Conditioner Turning Off On Its Own?

As a homeowner, you may have experienced issues with your HVAC system at some point, particularly your air conditioner. Perhaps it’s a case of the appliance shirting on or off unexpectedly before reaching your targeted temperature levels on the thermostat. If that’s the case, then you could be dealing with a bad issue of short cycling.

Short cycling occurs when your air conditioner goes on a frequent on and off course, a process that is both irritating, frustrating, and costly. If you’ve been experiencing this with AC, and you’re tired of the whole issue, then stick around, and we’ll show you how to troubleshoot this issue.

Understanding Short Cycling on Air Conditioners

Short cycling occurs when something inside the HVAC system keeps your AC from completing the entire cooling cycle. This issue leads to inefficient performance of your AC system, increasing your cooling bill and reducing your system’s life span.

Moreover, prolonged on-and-off cycling can lead to frequent breakdowns due to excess pressure.  The good news is you can prevent all this by consistently keeping your HVAC system well maintained with regular inspection, cleaning, and repairs. During these inspections, a qualified technician will identify potential dangers and suppress them before they get out of control.

What Causes Short Cycling on AC Units

We have answered your question about why your air conditioner goes on and off-cycle, sometimes unexpectedly. Since this problem is caused by short cycling, let us identify the root of the problem by determining what causes short cycling. These problems include:

Faulty Thermostat 

Think of the thermostat as the head, heart, or brain of your AC. The thermostat dictates when your air conditioner should turn on or off. And just like any other electrical appliance, the thermostat is susceptible to malfunction.

Either, the device could be faulty, or the connecting wires could develop a short, leading to inconsistency in operations. The best remedy for this issue is calling your local air conditioner technician to inspect the thermostat and conduct the necessary repairs.

Insufficient Airflow In The AC

To regulate your home temperatures accordingly, your ac should let in sufficient warm air; otherwise, vital components such as the air blower will strain to cool your home. The result of this scenario is overheating and ultimately the shutting down of the AC. A dirty air filter typically causes restricted airflow since all air must pass through the filter. If that’s clogged with dirt, the airflow will be compromised.

Clean Vs. Dirty Air Filter (Left and Right)

Regularly inspect your air filter to ensure they are clean. If your filter is covered or clogged with dirt, replace it with a new one. Other causes of poor airflow include broken vents, which you should inspect to ensure they function normally. Fan problems can also cause poor airflow. Have your fan inspected and serviced by a professional AC technician. However, if the fan motor is broken, it should be replaced immediately. Faulty ducts are another cause of restricted airflow, and you should always check your ductwork for possible leaks.

Clogged Condensate Line

Typically, your AC absorbs moisture from the warm air in your home, a process known as condensation. Condensation is kept from leaking into your home through a pipe that drains it out. When debris enters the condensation pipe, it can be clogged.  The result is the condensation draining back into the drain pan instead of the outside. And once the water accumulates, it can shut off your AC.

You can drain the accumulative water in the drain pan by locating the air handler in the condensate line and removing the tip in that part of the line (T-Shaped), and add distilled vinegar into the line, then flush after 30 minutes. If this doesn’t work, then contact your HVAC professionals immediately.

Low Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerants are responsible for cooling your home’s air. Low refrigerant is usually caused by leaks that can trigger the compressor to switch off. And once your compressor shuts off, the ac will also stop working. However, the pressure will be back on once the pressure levels subside. To avoid this scenario, have a professional AC technician inspect your refrigerant for leaks. Otherwise, common signs of low refrigerant include:

  • Weird or hissing sounds
  • Water accumulating around the indoor unit
  • Diminished cooling power
  • Upsurge in energy bills

Oversized Air Conditioner

Okay, this may not have occurred to you, but if you have been dealing with the same AC problem for some time, the problem may be due to the appliance itself.  If it’s a problem that began the moment you had a new AC system installed, then it could be that it is too big for your home.

An oversized system may not have the correct refrigerant cycle and will develop issues at some point. It may cool your home for a short time, then quickly shut off, then turn on again at some point resulting in a massive inconsistency. If you notice that your system is shutting off at an abnormal frequency of 10 to 15 minutes, then it’s a case of an oversized AC system

Besides being frustrating, you’ll have to deal with:

  • Higher energy bills: The frequent on and off turning of your AC consumes more energy, which means increased energy bills.
  • Frequent repairs: Accelerated wear and tear, resulting in more AC repairs.
  • Reduced lifespan: More damage results in more repairs and ultimately a shorter lifespan of your system.

Solution: An AC sizing calculator can help you determine the approximate system size requirements. Alternatively, talk to for a second and professional opinion when thinking of installing new equipment.

Defective Run Capacitor

Your AC’s run capacitor provides the necessary energy boost to enable it to turn on and function efficiently. When the run capacitor is defective or worn out, it results in inconsistent power supply and ultimately switching off and on the  AC system.

Solution: Contact your local HVAC professionals to inspect and diagnose the problem. If the run capacitor is in bad condition, have them fix and replace it before it causes other parts to degrade.

Find Solution For Your Malfunctioning AC System In Maplewood, Minnesota

If you are dealing with a faulty AC system that could be due to any of the problems mentioned above, then you need to act fast. If left unchecked or repaired, your system can cause further damage to your home, health, and bank account.

Working with a professional HVAC company is the only way to ensure your system is functioning correctly. At Metro Heating and Cooling, our trusted and dedicated technicians would be happy to help. We offer upfront quotes and estimates to help you come up with a sustainable budget. That way, you won’t receive any surprises once the job is done. Visit our service page to learn more about our services and offers.

Schedule a HVAC repair anywhere in the Minneapolis or St. Paul area today by calling (651) 294-7798 or by requesting an estimate online.


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1220 Cope Avenue East, Maplewood, MN 55109