What is Causing Inconsistent AC Unit Cycling?

By: John Garcia | Date Posted: July 19, 2022

Inconsistent AC Unit Cycling: If you’ve been noticing that your AC unit is cycling on and off more than usual or it runs for shorter periods than usual, it could be due to a few different factors.

Your AC is designed to cycle on and off to maintain a consistent temperature inside your home, but if you’ve noted inconsistent cycling with your unit, it could indicate something is wrong.

Here are the possible reasons why your AC unit might be cycling inconsistently and the solutions:

The Compressor is Obstructed

Compressor is Obstructed

The compressor is responsible for circulating the refrigerant throughout your AC unit, so if it’s obstructed, that can definitely throw off the whole system. There are a few ways that the compressor can become obstructed.

  • If the AC unit isn’t level, it can cause the compressor to overheat and shut down.
  • If there’s a refrigerant leak, it will cause the compressor to work harder than usual and eventually overheat.
  • If the compressor is dirty, the dirt and debris can block the refrigerant flow and cause it to overheat.

Riverdale HVAC professionals note that you’ll need to level out your AC unit, repair any leaks, and clean the compressor to fix this issue. Hiring a professional to do this will ensure that it’s done correctly and prevent further damage to your AC unit.

The Thermostat is Faulty

House thermostat

A malfunctioning thermostat causes frequent AC cycling due to improper temperature regulation. Dirt buildup, power surges, or age can lead to faults. Have a professional HVAC technician inspect your thermostat if you suspect issues, and consider a programmable thermostat for consistent operation.

Frozen coils hinder air cooling due to dirty air filters, overly cold evaporator coils, or insufficient airflow. Turn off the AC unit to let frozen coils thaw naturally or use a hair dryer carefully to avoid overheating.

The AC Unit is Oversized for Your Home

The True Cost of Air Conditioning How AC Affects Your Home

An oversized AC unit cools your home quickly but doesn’t remove humidity properly, leading to temperature fluctuations and discomfort. It also uses more energy, increasing costs. If you suspect your AC unit is too large, have a professional assess it to ensure it’s the right size and properly installed, especially if your home has changed.

Low refrigerant levels can cause your AC unit to cycle more frequently and work harder, resulting in hissing or bubbling noises. If you suspect low refrigerant levels, call a professional to check and add refrigerant as needed, as doing it yourself can be dangerous and may damage the unit.

The Air Filter is Dirty

Dirty Air Filter

A clean air filter ensures proper airflow, which is crucial for your AC unit’s efficiency. A clogged filter restricts airflow, causing the unit to cycle more frequently. The air filter removes dust and dirt, keeping the AC unit clean. Change your air filter every few months or as needed, and buy replacements at most hardware stores. If you have a reusable filter, clean it regularly. Upgrading to HEPA filters offers longer-lasting and improved air filtering.

Electrical issues in your AC, such as problems with the electrical board, can cause erratic cycling. Strange noises like popping, buzzing, or clicking indicate potential electrical problems. Loose wires, a tripped breaker, or a faulty capacitor could be the cause. Call a professional immediately if you suspect electrical issues, as attempting repairs yourself can be dangerous.

Get Your AC Unit Checked

If you have an AC unit cycling on and off more frequently than usual, it’s important to get it checked by a professional to identify the root cause and have it fixed properly.

Thank you for reading!


John is the founder and chief editor of Homienjoy. With over 15 years of experience in the home improvement industry, John is passionate about helping homeowners confidently tackle their projects. Holding a civil engineering degree and working as a contractor, project manager, and consultant, John brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Homienjoy community.

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