What is Causing Inconsistent AC Unit Cycling?

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

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 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

If your thermostat is not working correctly, it will not be able to properly regulate the temperature in your home, which can cause your AC unit to cycle more frequently than normal.

A thermostat can become faulty for a variety of reasons, such as dirt or debris build-up, power surges, or simply because it is old and needs to be replaced.

If you suspect that your thermostat may cause your AC unit’s inconsistent cycling, you should have a professional HVAC technician look at it. Opt for a programmable AC thermostat that automatically regulates the temperature in your home, so you don’t have to worry about it. An efficient thermostat will ensure consistent AC unit operation.

The Coils are Frozen

The coils help to cool the air, so when they’re frozen, it prevents the air from being cooled properly. There are a few different things that can cause the coils to freeze, such as:

  • The air filter is dirty
  • The evaporator coils are too cold
  • There’s not enough airflow

If the coils are frozen, it’s important to thaw them out as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to turn off the AC unit and let it thaw on its own. You can also try using a hair dryer to thaw the coils, but be careful not to overheat them.

The AC Unit is Oversized for Your Home

The True Cost of Air Conditioning How AC Affects Your Home

If your AC unit is too large, it will cool your home very quickly and shut off but won’t be able to properly remove the humidity. This can cause the temperature in your home to fluctuate and feel uncomfortable. The biggest problem with having an oversized AC unit is that it will use more energy and cost you more money in the long run.

If you think your AC unit may be too large, the best thing to do is to have a professional come out and take a look. They can help you determine the right size for your home and ensure it’s properly installed. Your AC unit should be sized correctly for your home, especially if you have a new addition or if your home’s layout has changed.

The AC Refrigerant Level is Low

If your AC unit is cycling on and off more frequently than normal, it could also be because the refrigerant level is low. When the refrigerant level is low, the AC unit has to work harder to cool the air, which can cause it to cycle more often. You’re also likely to hear more sounds like hissing or bubbling coming from the unit when the refrigerant level is low.

If you think your AC unit’s refrigerant level might be low, the best thing to do is call a professional to come and take a look. Trying to add refrigerant yourself can be dangerous. Refrigerant is responsible for cooling the air, so adding too much or not enough can seriously damage your AC unit. A professional will be able to test the refrigerant level and add more if necessary.

The Air Filter is Dirty

Dirty Air Filter

A clean air filter is essential for proper airflow, which is necessary for your AC unit to function properly. If the air filter is clogged, it can restrict airflow and cause the unit to cycle on and off more frequently. Your air filter not only removes dust and dirt from the air but also helps keep your AC unit clean.

To prevent your air filter from getting dirty too quickly, you should change it every few months or as needed. You can buy replacement filters at most hardware stores.

If you have a reusable air filter, you will need to clean it regularly. If you can upgrade to HEPA filters, they will last longer and offer improved air filtering.

The AC Has Electrical/Board Issues

Your AC’s electrical system is one of the most crucial parts of the unit. An issue with the electrical board or other components can cause your AC to cycle on and off erratically.

One sign that your AC has electrical issues is if it’s making strange noises. If you hear popping, buzzing, or clicking sounds, it could indicate a problem with the electrical system or other parts of the AC unit.

Electrical issues could be caused by loose wires, a tripped breaker, or a faulty capacitor. If you suspect your AC has electrical issues, it’s important to call a professional right away. Trying to fix the problem yourself could be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

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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