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Why Does My Air Conditioner Turn Off by Itself?

Why Does My Air Conditioner Turn Off by Itself?

When you switch on your air conditioner, does it turn off by itself within 10 to 15 minutes? If so, you could wonder, ‘Why does my air conditioner turn off by itself?’ Usually, you’re experiencing a very common issue called short cycling. When this happens, the cooling cycle on your unit gets terminated too early, and it’ll switch on again in a few minutes. Depending on the outdoor and indoor temperature and conditions, this could mean that your air conditioner switches on and off every 15 minutes or so.

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This phenomenon is bad for your budget and your unit. First, it’ll drive up your energy bills because switching your unit on repeatedly takes more power than turning it on once when running efficiently. Additionally, this cycle of turning on and off adds more wear and tear to your air conditioner’s mechanisms, which can shorten the average lifespan.

If your air conditioner is turning off quickly and can lead to expensive repairs, you want to address it right away. We will outline eight of the main reasons your air conditioner turns off and what you can do to fix it below.

8 Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Turns Off By Itself

You may want your air conditioner running a lot to keep your home cool when it gets hot. However, if you notice your air conditioner turning off quickly, this indicates a problem. Any unit that cycles too quickly can short cycle, impacting your energy efficiency, comfort levels, and your air conditioner’s lifespan. If you want to troubleshoot your unit, go through the following reasons below and see if you can figure out what the problem is and stop it from happening. 

1. Dirty Air Filter

Dirty Air Filter

Dusty, dirty, or clogged filters on your air conditioner can significantly impact how it runs. If you notice your system switching on and off randomly every 10 to 15 minutes, you should consider opening it up and taking a look at the air filters. The dirty air filter can eventually restrict the airflow inside the unit. In turn, this can cause the coils inside your air conditioner to freeze up, and this is what causes the short cycling. So, if your system keeps shutting off, make a point to clean your filters.  

2. Issue with the Thermostat

The thermostat is a part that you want to function correctly on your air conditioner. If the thermostat has a problem, it won’t be able to read the temperature accurately, and this could cause your system to switch on and off randomly. The thermostat’s batteries could be low; one indicator is the thermostat screen fading. If it looks dull, you could have dying batteries and want to replace them immediately. If this doesn’t fix the problem, call a trained technician to test your unit and pinpoint the issue.

3. Electrical Problems

Electrical System Issues

It’s common for electrical problems to cause your air conditioner to turn off. This is usually the issue if you have a fault in the electrical line or the capacitor is failing or broken. However, your system could also have an electrical problem with the connections, thermostat, or circuit boards. Because electrical issues are tricky to diagnose and even dangerous, you don’t want to tackle this problem alone. A technician can narrow down the source and fix it without any issues. 

4. Low Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is a substance responsible for your unit’s heat exchange. It absorbs heat from inside the house and dissipates it through the condenser coils. If you have a leak, the heat exchanger can fail, and it can cause damage to some of the most expensive parts of the system. You shouldn’t have to regularly add more refrigerant because it’s in a self-contained line. If you do, you have a leak that you need to address. 

5. Bad Thermostat Placement


It’s common to put the thermostat in a bad place. If yours is in a location that is a different temperature from your home, like near a window, under the AC vent, or on the shady side of your home, it could get tricked into thinking the interior is colder than it actually is. This could be the reason your air conditioner is turning off quickly, and you’ll need to have it reinstalled in a central location to fix it.

6. Dirty Condenser Coils

If you’ve neglected routine maintenance on your AC unit for years, the condenser coils may have a layer of debris and dirt on them. These coils are inside the outdoor portion of your AC unit, releasing heat from inside your house. If too much dirt and grime clog them, it can cause your system to overheat and switch off.

7. An Oversized Air Conditioner

AC Is Not Working Due to Damaged Heat Pump

It’s possible to get an AC unit that is too large for your home, and this can cause it to turn on and off. An oversized AC can cool your home very quickly and switch off, but it can create uneven cooling that makes it turn on again before it needs to. If you think your unit is too large, you can see about downgrading to a smaller unit.

8. Faulty Run Capacitor

The run capacitor is a critical component in your AC system. This part’s purpose is to give enough electrical current to switch the AC unit on. It also ensures there is enough power to keep the unit running. It may only get enough power to run it sporadically when it’s faulty or fails, making it turn on and off every 10 to 15 minutes. If your unit isn’t blowing cold air, this is another clue that your run capacitor is failing. 

Call Hutchinson to Troubleshoot and Fix Your AC

If you’re wondering, “Why does my air conditioner turn off by itself?” and you don’t want to tackle this project on your own, we can help. We have a dedicated team of experienced technicians who are ready to diagnose your issue and get your AC running at peak levels to keep your home cool and comfortable. Book an appointment today