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6 Reasons Your AC Turns On and Off Right Away

It’s bad news for you and for your air conditioner if your air conditioner turns on and off right away. It takes more power for your AC unit to start up over and over than it does for it to start once and run a full cycle. So not only is this going to add to your electric bill but it’s also putting unnecessary strain on your AC unit. 

Leaving your AC unit to run like this in short, unsuccessful bursts could lead to more serious repairs.  So if you notice that your AC turns on and off again several times in a row, then an HVAC specialist should examine the issue as soon as possible. Beyond that, here are some reasons for why that could be happening. 

Why Your Air Conditioner Turns On and Off Right Away

1. Your Thermostat is Broken

Many issues homeowners face with their AC unit can be boiled down to a malfunctioning thermostat. If your air conditioner turns on and off right away then your thermostat may be broken. The thermostat could be reading the temperature of the home incorrectly, thereby communicating misinformation to your AC unit, causing it to turn on and off.

Check your thermostat first. If the screen is blank or faded, it is possibly low on batteries. Try replacing the batteries, working through other common thermostat troubleshooting steps, then checking the temperature settings to see if it’s working. If this doesn’t resolve your issue, a professional HVAC technician can help you with a more accurate diagnosis.

2. Your Air Filter is Dirty

When AC units malfunction, a dirty air filter is a common source to the problem. When your AC unit's air filter is clogged, it can’t operate properly and is often forced into a type of overdrive or malfunctioning processing. Dirty air filters restrict air flow, which can cause your AC unit to start and stop again. Check your air filter and replace it if it’s dirty. Moving forward, be sure to always replace your air filter regularly.

3. Your Air Conditioner is Oversized

If you notice your air conditioning turning on and off, think about how long it’s been doing that. Has it always been a problem or did it recently start? If your AC turns on and off again right away, it could be too large for your home and need replacing. Any air conditioner that is too large and powerful for the size of the home won’t operate properly. 

Living with your oversized AC turning on and off can lead to a wide array of problems, including higher electric bills, more repairs needed on your unit, and a shorter air conditioner lifespan.

4. Dirty Coils

If you’ve noticed your air conditioning turning on and off, but none of the above reasons seem to be the culprit, it’s possible that your AC unit’s condenser coils are covered in dirt, dust, and other debris. If these coils are clogged with too much dirt, it can lead to your AC turning on and off, as well as other more serious problems. Have the coils cleaned by a professional HVAC technician to help your unit run properly again.

5. Refrigerant Leakage

If your air conditioner turns on and off right away, this could also be due to your system having a refrigerant leak. When your system is running low on coolant, the compressor isn’t able to operate properly, causing it to shut down.  Always have a HVAC specialist handle a possible refrigerant leak in your AC unit. 

6. Compressor Failure

If your air conditioner turns on and off, it could be because of compressor failure even if your refrigerant levels are fine. An AC compressor can overheat, malfunction, or begin failing, all of which can trigger your air conditioner turning on and off. A compressor failure would need to be diagnosed by a professional HVAC technician. 

Get Your AC Unit Working Again

While no air conditioner is going to last forever, regular maintenance, repairs, and service appointments will help yours last much longer while operating much better. If your air conditioner turns on and off right away, don’t wait for it to not turn on at all. Call John C. Flood at (703) 752-1266 for some help. You can also contact our experts online for more information or to schedule your HVAC inspection.