When an air conditioner keeps turning off, it does not provide the cold or warm air you need. Learn how to fix this problem in this article.
Table of Contents
Air Conditioner Keeps Turning Off Before Temperature Is Reached – Fixed
Your air conditioner is short-cycling if it keeps turning off before it achieves the set temperature. Several faults can cause the system to short cycle, and one of the most common ones is an oversized unit. Typically, an air conditioner works based on the square footage of the space where you will install it compared to the British Thermal Units per hour of the air conditioner.
So, if you install one considerably larger than the room, it will quickly cool it and turn off. Depending on the weather, the room’s temperature may quickly rise, and you will hear the unit turning on again. The best solution in such a case is to replace the outdoor unit; an HVAC technician can help you determine which unit needs to be replaced or how best to fix the issue.
However, check the following if the size of the air conditioning system is not the problem:
1. Air Filter
You may wonder why the air filter in your air conditioner gets so many mentions, including within solutions that do not seem to concern it. The filter is one of the core components of an air conditioner. It filters the air flowing in and out of the system to ensure you receive the best quality. Since an air conditioner’s primary responsibility is to produce clean, cold air, the filter makes the job easy.
However, the filter gets clogged with dirt over a short period, especially in a space with a lot of foot traffic. As a result, manufacturers insist on replacing the filter every two months, sometimes less, depending on the area. Using an air conditioner with a dirty filter can affect its functionality; it can cause the evaporator coil to freeze and stop the blower from circulating cold air. And if the coil is covered with ice and the blower stops working, there will be little or no cold air, causing the compressor to overwork itself and shut down due to overheating.
Therefore, check the filter; follow the instructions in the air conditioner’s use and care manual to locate and remove the filter. Discard it and put a new one in its place; ensure it is the correct type for your air conditioner model and type. Check the MERV rating before buying; the higher the rating, the more effective the filter will be in removing air pollutants. Repeat this service on the unit every two or three months to keep it from short cycling.
2. Evaporator Coil
While a dirty filter can affect how well the evaporator coil functions, it is not the only source of dirt on the coil. If the air conditioner is ducted, a leak in the ductwork can let air from the outside into the system without filtering. Over time, the coil becomes dirty and cannot release cold air. Consequently, it becomes too cold, and humidity forming on it freezes too quickly, clogging it. The room does not cool, and the air conditioner may shut down from the strain of running too often as it tries to produce cold air.
Check the coil if you have replaced the filter, but the air conditioner keeps turning off. A significant amount of ice on the coil means it is clogged; turn off the air conditioner and allow the coil to thaw. Ensure the condensate flows out of the system because it can also cause the coil to freeze. Clean the coil after it thaws using a coil cleaner and use the Fan mode to dry it afterward. Note that it is best to let a professional technician check and clean the coil when applicable.
3. Condensate Drain and Pan
The drain and drain pan allow water that forms during the air conditioner’s regular operation to flow out. That way, the unit does not store water and encourages mildew and mold growth. Excess water can also damage the air conditioner. However, the drain pan may become clogged with debris over time and restrict the water flow. Consequently, the water remains trapped in the unit and accumulates. A float switch shuts the system down when the water reaches a certain point. And that may explain why the air conditioner keeps turning off.
Therefore, turn off the air conditioner and check the drain pan. Consult the user manual for the exact location of the pan on your specific model. Clean it to remove debris and flush the drain tube to remove any obstruction. You may need to use a stiff wire to push the dirt out of it if warm water and vinegar do not work. Replace the drain pan when the water runs free and clear from the tube. Then, turn on the air conditioner to check if it works.
Every air conditioner runs with refrigerant, a gas that turns into liquid and absorbs the heat from the air, leaving it cold. Typically, the refrigerant flows through a sealed system and never depletes. In other words, you never have to add more to the system. However, the sealed system can develop holes, and the refrigerant will slowly leak out of it. And if this happens, the air conditioner will not have enough, causing it to keep turning off.
While it may sound easy to fix, it is best to turn off the air conditioner and call for professional assistance. You can contact the manufacturer, especially if the appliance is under warranty, or get an independent HVAC technician. Fixing the leaks yourself may be ineffective because you may not find all the holes, which means the refrigerant leaks again after recharging the system.
5. Electrical Problems
There may be problems with the wiring, capacitor, control board, or other electrical connections. When nothing else seems to fix the problem, the next step is determining whether the air conditioner has wiring or connection issues. For this, you will need the help of an electrician or a trained HVAC technician to check each component. They can also service the system and prevent a possible shutdown due to unseen faults.
Notes: These steps apply to all types of air conditioners, including split units, ducted air conditioners, and portable units. Also, if your RV air conditioner keeps turning off, follow these steps to fix it.
Air Conditioner Keeps Turning On and Off – Quick Fix
If you find that your air conditioner keeps turning on and off, you may want to check the main power supply. Inspect the circuit breaker for faults and ensure the thermostat is in good working condition. You may also want to check the air conditioner’s power cord where applicable.
Furthermore, check the condensing unit, air filter, and a possible refrigerant leak. There is a slight possibility that the air conditioner size affects its functionality. Check out this article on an air conditioner that turns on and off immediately to find instructions on fixing these common issues.
My Air Conditioner Keeps Turning Off and On By Itself in My Car – Solved
Several reasons can cause the air conditioner in your car to turn on and off. Check or test the fuse, fan belt, relay, and condensing unit. You may also check the blower motor, cooling fan, and intake vent. A last possible issue is a refrigerant leak; the cooling lines may have tiny puncture holes through which the refrigerant leaks. This article on an air conditioner turning on and off in a car explains how to troubleshoot and fix the problems. But if it is a refrigerant leak, you will need a professional auto service technician to service your car and solve the air conditioner problem.
Air Conditioner Breaker Keeps Shutting Off – How to Fix
Before doing anything else, there are some steps to take if the breaker controlling your air conditioner keeps shutting off. When the breaker goes off, turn off the thermostat so that it stops trying to run the cooling function. Next, go to the breaker, turn it on, and leave it for about thirty minutes without turning on the thermostat. This gives the breaker time to reset; turn on the breaker after thirty minutes and check the air conditioner.
If it comes on, the problem is solved, and you are good to go. However, if the air conditioner does not work or the breaker shuts off again, you may have a more serious problem that a simple reset cannot fix. You may need to hire a service technician for further assistance, but check the following possible causes of the breaker shutting off and fix the easy ones.
1. Dirty Air Filter
A clogged air filter is one of the primary reasons your air conditioner trips the circuit breaker. The filter allows air to flow in and out of the system, filtering it in the process. Over time, dirt in the air clogs it, making airflow increasingly difficult. Eventually, it triggers the fan to work harder to draw air into the system when it senses there is not enough, and if the fan runs more than normal, it requires more electricity, which the breaker supplies.
The extra pressure on the breaker causes it to shut off. You can easily remove and replace the filter in your air conditioner following the use and care manual instructions. The filter is usually inside the indoor unit or air handler, so locate and replace it. Typically, there are disposable and reusable filters; you can clean and reuse some if they have not been used for longer than two months. Otherwise, replace the filter.
2. Electrical Issues
The run capacitor may fail, or the air conditioner may have loose wiring. If there is a power surge or voltage spike, it may affect the breaker and cause it to shut off. Unfortunately, this type of problem will require professional attention, so call the manufacturing brand or hire a qualified appliance technician.
3. Clogged Condensing Unit
A dirty condenser coil can cause the breaker to shut off because it cannot dissipate heat out of the system. The condenser collects the hot refrigerant after it absorbs heat from the air and transfers the heat out of the air conditioning system. However, if the condenser becomes dirty, which happens because it is outside the house, it traps heat in the system and causes overheating. Eventually, the system runs all the time to maintain a cool temperature, uses too much energy, and trips the breaker.
While this problem looks like it has an easy solution, it may not be so. Cleaning the condenser coil may require professional assistance because of the condenser fins’ fragility and other electrical connections. If you accidentally touch the capacitor before it is discharged, it may electrocute you. Therefore, hire an HVAC technician to clean the condensing unit and check for other possible faults.
4. Defective Fan Motor
A dirty air filter can restrict airflow, but so can a bad fan. If an air conditioner fan stops running, there will be little or no air, which keeps the unit running more than usual. As a result, it overworks itself and pulls more power than usual, causing the breaker to shut off. Poor maintenance can cause this fan issue, so regular maintenance is crucial. Check the outdoor fan in the condensing unit to ensure it is in good working order. Also, check the blower in the indoor unit for any functionality issues. You may have to replace the fan’s motor, which may mean letting a technician do the repair job.
5. Frozen Evaporator Coil
The evaporator coil is where the cold air comes from as the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air conditioner. Therefore, it plays a vital role in how the system functions and can restrict airflow if frozen. So, check the coil in the indoor unit to see if there is an ice accumulation on it. You can leave the air conditioner off until all the ice melts, or you can turn it on and use the Fan mode to melt the ice.
Leave the air conditioner running on fan mode until the ice melts. You must also find out why the evaporator coil is frozen; it is usually due to dirt. The filter may cause it, but it may come from a ductwork leak or other avenues. Clean the evaporator coil using a no-rinse coil cleaner or hire an appliance technician to do the job.
6. Damaged Compressor
Since the compressor is the center of the air conditioning system and controls the cooling function, it uses a lot of electricity. When it starts, it pulls electricity and uses it to run until its functionality eases out and the electricity use balances out. However, the electricity usage increases the older the compressor gets or if it becomes damaged. In such a case, you may need to replace the compressor, but that may be only if the cost of a new one is lower than that of a new air conditioner. Otherwise, replace the entire air conditioning system.
7. Refrigerant Leak
Coil corrosion can cause the cooling pipes to leak refrigerant. While this is not normal, it happens when there is a cause for corrosion, especially with cleaning agents and other external factors. And when the coil leaks, the refrigerant level drops, making it harder for the air conditioner to run normally. Eventually, the strain affects the breaker and shuts it off too frequently. A refrigerant leak requires professional attention, so hire a technician to check and fix the problem.
Air Conditioner Compressor Keeps Turning Off – Solutions
The compressor’s run capacitor may be defective if the motor keeps turning off by itself. There is also the possibility that the thermostat has malfunctioned, and since it controls how the entire system runs, it may affect the compressor. The condenser coil may be dirty, or the air filter needs a replacement, especially if it is clogged with dirt.
Furthermore, check to see if the evaporator coil is covered with ice or if the system is leaking refrigerant. Finally, the problem may stem from the compressor due to internal damage, loose wiring, or wear and tear from age. Follow the instructions in this article on an air conditioner compressor that kicks on and off to find a permanent solution.
Why Does My AC Stay On When I Turn It Off?
An air conditioner stays on after you manually turn it off because the thermostat is faulty. While it is not the only reason, you may want to start by checking the component. It may also have to do with the limit control switch, or the weather outside may be sweltering. In such a case, you will have the start with the most likely cause, which is a faulty thermostat. Check out this article on an air conditioner turning on when the thermostat is off to troubleshoot further and solve the problem.