AC kicking on and off is such a common HVAC problem. If you are experiencing it, there is either a mechanical or technical problem you need to solve. And even better, you may need AC repair services to fix your AC switching on and off automatically.

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Contact 24/7 for air conditioning services!

If your HVAC system keeps turning on and off, you want to know why. After all, you cannot solve a problem without understanding it’s root well.

However, before we get why the AC unit keeps going on and off, you need to get through short cycling. When this problem happens to your air conditioning system, it is probably short cycling.

What is Short Cycling

Whenever your air conditioner system turns on and off without running for more extended periods, it is short cycling. This means that it switches off without running a complete cooling cycle. Your AC turns on the compressor and then off repeatedly.

Your air conditioner is locked up in a start-up cycle when short cycling happens. When your system is short cycling, it is not the time to look for how to reset an air conditioner. This is a situation you do not want too long in this short cycling trance because:

  • it interferes with the cooling process,
  • it increases energy bills,
  • and it stresses other parts of the central air conditioning.

Let us get into the details of why all this is happening. And even more importantly, what you need to do to get out this situation of AC turning on and off.

Reasons AC Unit Keeps Turning On and Off

There are several reasons your air conditioner clicks on and off. We review these in detail and hope they can help you quickly troubleshoot when facing a problem.

We will get straight into the details.

Wrong Thermostat Location

Where is your thermostat located?

If your thermostat is located in an impractical spot, you will have trouble. Your thermostat signals your air conditioning system to turn on or off depending on the surrounding temperatures.

If your thermostat is located near a sunny window, it could be why your AC keeps turning on and off. With the sun momentarily reflecting on the thermostat, there will be confusion about the room’s actual temperature.

Your thermostat will have inaccurate reading triggering the AC to turn on and off if it is located:

  • close to a window or ventilation that receives direct sunlight,
  • near a room that is generally warmer than the rest of the home, such as the kitchen and bathroom,
  • under the supply air vents and receive direct airflow,

These locations confuse your thermostat. It will not be sure whether your house is cold or hot.

The solution for this is to move your thermostat to a more centralized and neutral position. Feel free to call and consult us on the movement of your thermostat to an ideal location.

Malfunctioning Thermostat

Thermostat problems could be why your central air conditioner turns on and off after short periods.

Your thermostat is the central control of your air conditioning system. If it is not well-maintained, it can develop problems. They will start providing faulty readings, which will trigger the air conditioning in the wrong ways.

A faulty thermostat can:

  • fail to sense the temperature correctly,
  • provide faulty temperature data
  • and send conflicting signals.

If you have a malfunctioning thermostat, you will need to install a new thermostat. Sticking to the old and faulty one will not have your house cooled sufficiently and increase your energy bills.

Refrigerant Leak

Another common reason your home AC compressor kicks on and off is low refrigerant levels. This is a phenomenon that is often caused by refrigerant leaks.

Refrigerant or Freon is the coolant that absorbs heat from your indoor air. Therefore, if there are not enough refrigerant levels, the compressor’s pressure becomes unstable. This instability is why your AC compressor turns on and off after short periods.

A refrigerant leak can cause severe damage to your system. It is an issue that needs AC repair emergency services.

Oversized Air Conditioner

Your AC system may be too large for your house. If your AC system is too big for your house, it will cool your house quickly and go off shortly after turning on.

It may not seem like a problem on the surface, but it increases your energy bills and increases the chances of a breakdown.

A simple assessment from our team of professionals will help you determine whether the size of your AC unit is too big.

The solution to this is to ensure you work with professional AC installation companies. You do not want to waste money having to resolve the size of your air conditioner repeatedly.

Dirty Air Filter

How often do you change or clean your air filters? If not as often as needed, the dirty air filters could be dirty. A dirty and clogged air filter restricts proper airflow, which consequently freezes the evaporator coils.

When your evaporator coil is frozen, it will go on and off after short periods.

We recommend that you replace your dirty air filter at least once monthly.

Your Condenser Coils are Dirty

The condenser coils are usually located in the outside AC unit. This exposes them to a lot of dirt and debris. 

They, therefore, end up dirtier than any other part of the AC unit.

If you do not perform routine AC maintenance, you will soon notice that the condenser coil is caked in dirt and grime. Feel free to schedule with us air conditioner maintenance service.

If the condenser is covered in thick grime, it will have trouble with heat exchange. There will be an accumulation of heat extracted from inside your house, overheating the AC, forcing it to shut down. If this cycle of your AC unit turning on and off continues, it could result in your system’s breakdown.

Electrical Problems in Air Conditioner

Is your AC unit is turning on and off right away? You most likely have having electrical problems. . The on and off-cycle happens when the electrical power is cut from the and later reconnected from your AC unit(1).

Testing the electrical connection in your central air conditioner can be dangerous for untrained people. If your system seems to be having electrical problems, you are better off trusting HVAC Santa Clarita to do a professional assessment of the system and fix the connection problem.

AC Run Capacitor Problems

The run capacitor is responsible for providing the initial surge of energy that turns on your air conditioning system. It then provides energy that keeps the system on all through the cycle.

If you have a worn-out run capacitor, it fails to provide continuous energy for the system. This discontinuity causes your air conditioner to turn on and off.

A faulty run capacitor results in inefficiency. Give us a call today to replace or repair your capacitor.

Compressor Failure

If your AC compressor is malfunctioning, overheating or on the verge of failing, it will make your AC system click on and off frequently.

If you note that your air conditioner turns on and off in 2-3 minutes, your compressor is overheating, or you are most likely to face compressor failure.

The solution to this is to contact your local HVAC company. Contact us at HVAC Santa Clarita to diagnose and replace your AC compressor. Remember that if your compressor is a malfunction, it can quickly degrade other parts through wear and tear.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

If your AC has air restriction issues such as a dirty air filter, or a refrigerant leak, your evaporator coils are most likely freezing.

When your evaporator coils are freezing, your AC system or the outside AC unit will turn off until the ice thaws before turning on again.

The solution is to check your outdoor unit if it has an ice buildup. The buildup will often occur due to a refrigerant leak or a dirty air filter. Contact your local professional HVAC company to come and fix this problem from the root.

Clogged Drain Line

Many AC systems come with a safety feature called a float switch. The float switch switches off the AC unit when water in the drain line is either not flowing correctly or is flowing back up the system.

If air does not flow properly in your house even after turning the thermostat to auto, a clogged drain line is another of the top causes. It may come after ruling out thermostat issues or electrical problems, but it is typical.

Signs that your drain line is clogged include:

  • A musty-smelling AC
  • AC unit licking water,
  • drip pan full of water.

You can clean this by using a vacuum to unclog the drain line. As the water flows, ensure it flows down the drain and not back to the AC. You may need to use access blocks to ensure water flows only in the right direction.

You can pour a cup of vinegar down the drain to kill algae, fungi and mold that causes blocks.

Why you Need to Call for Instant AC Repair Services When Your AC Unit Keeps Turning on and Off

When your AC keeps going on and off after a few minutes and never finishes a cooling cycle, you need to be on the move to fix that issue.

This is not something you want to wait any longer about, even if the system still manages to cool your house.

Here are reasons you need to troubleshoot and call a reliable HVAC company when your system is short-cycling:

  • The AC unit uses the most power when the compressor is starting up. When the system is stuck in this cycle, it draws too much energy, which will multiply your utility bills,
  • If the AC compressor turns on and off repeatedly, it accumulates more wear and tears over a short period. You are better off repairing it than waiting to when you will need a complete replacement.
  • Constant short-cycling results in overheating the system, which may eventually cause burnout.

It is better to repair the system in the early stages. However, replacing worn-out AC systems may sometimes not be worth it if they are already worn out. You may need to find local AC installation companies to diagnose your system.

AC Turning on and Off Frequently Asked Questions

There are many reasons your AC system could be turning on and off. It may be not easy to troubleshoot on your own. 

And, you may not know what solution may help fix the short-cycling problem.

We answer a few FAQs hoping that we shade more light on this short-cycling issue.

Why does my AC unit keep turning on and off?

There are several reasons why your AC keeps kicking on and off. These could vary from your thermostat sensing the incorrect temperature, system overheating, inconsistent electrical issues to restricted airflow. All these are caused by dirty filters, electrical connections problems and thermostat issues.

How do I stop my AC from short cycling?

You first have to know why your AC is short-cycling. Solving this problem will help stop your AC from short cycling. However, the best ways to stop short cycling is to:

  • ensure the thermostat is working well and located in an appropriate and central place,
  • there is consistent electrical flow,
  • your system is not overheating,
  • All AC parts are maintained and cleaned well to prevent airflow restriction.

Why is my AC short cycling?

There are several reasons your air conditioner shuts off every few minutes. These include:

  • poor thermostat location,
  • faulty thermostat,
  • dirty filters or condenser coils,
  • electrical issues,
  • frozen evaporator coils
  • leaking refrigerant.

How often should my AC unit cycle on and off

Ideally, your AC should cycle on and off twice per hour. However, if it is hot outside, the cycle may happen three times per hour. Is your AC turning on and off every few seconds? There is a problem.

How many hours can AC run continuously?

Generally, your AC should run for 15-20 minutes. This depends on how the temperatures. If your AC compressor turns on and off after 2-3 minutes or runs for hours, there is an issue you need to solve.

How many hours a day should AC run?

On hot summer days, a cooling cycle may last 15 minutes. This may add up to 8- 10 hours per day.

Is it better to leave the AC fan on “on” or “auto.”

We often recommend that you keep your AC on “auto”. It will cycle and shut off when it attains your desired set temperatures. You, however, can have it on “On” when you want to tremendously increase air circulation in your house.

Final Thoughts AC Kicking on and Off

Now it is clear that if your AC cycles on and off every 10 minutes or less, there is a problem you need to solve. It may be a simple DIY fix like cleaning or changing your air filters. However, you will often need to work with a professional HVAC technician. Many of the issues behind your AC kicking on and off require professional HVAC attention.

We will gladly and happily be at your service to repair your AC unit that turns on and off repeatedly. Feel free to call us today.

call 661-888-0248

Contact 24/7 for air conditioning services!


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