Why Does My AC Compressor Shut Off After 2-3 Minutes

Posted by: Mas Broto
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Why does my AC compressor shut off after 2 to 3 minutes? It is a question that many homeowners have. Even if the rest of the unit is working fine, the compressor might stop working after only a few minutes of cooling.

When the air conditioning unit’s compressor turns on and off often, this is called a “short cycle,” and it is usually a sign of damage inside the unit.

AC Compressor and How it works

A compressor is a vital part of your air conditioner’s cooling cycle. This component keeps your home cool and comfortable when the weather is hot. It turns power into energy and circulates the refrigerant needed for heat exchange. Simply put, you can’t get cold air if your air conditioner’s compressor doesn’t work.

The compressor in an air conditioner works by squeezing refrigerant vapor. This raises the pressure of the vapor and turns it into a hot gas. The hot gas is cooled and condensed using a fan to pull air from the room through the condensing coil. The air that comes out of the coil is hot. As the refrigerant gas cools, it turns into a liquid pumped by the compressor inside the evaporator. At this point, it goes through a restrictor or expansion device, which lowers the pressure of the refrigerant and causes it to evaporate, which cools the air. Then, it is pumped back outside to the compressor to start the cycle over again.

Common Causes of Compressor Failure

There could be various reasons your AC compressor shut off after 2-3 minutes. Here are a few potential causes:

Refrigerant Leak

The substance that takes the heat out of the air in your home is called a refrigerant. Your air conditioner’s refrigerant works together with the compressor, which changes the refrigerant from a liquid to a high-pressure gas and back again. Normal levels of refrigerant keep the pressure in your system stable.

If the refrigerant level in your AC system is low, the compressor will have to work harder to cool the air, which can cause it to overheat and shut off.

Suppose you have a refrigerant leak, and the pressure in your system drops. This could cause the low-pressure switch at the compressor to turn on, which would turn off your AC. Your AC system’s heart is the compressor, so when it stops working, so does everything else. Then, the pressure goes up, which tells the AC to turn back on, and the short, fast cycles keep happening.

This problem needs to be fixed by a service center or a professional.

Clogged or dirty air filter

A dirty air filter can restrict air flow, causing the compressor to work harder and potentially overheat. The air filters are parts of the air conditioner that keep dust from getting into the other parts of the AC. But if the filter is dirty and full of dust, the parts may get too hot, and the circuit won’t work right. To stop this from happening, you could clean the air filters often.

Faulty thermostat

The AC compressor can get the wrong message from a broken thermostat. If the thermostat is not in the right place, it could give you a wrong temperature reading.

If the thermostat is not functioning correctly, it may not accurately measure the temperature in your home, causing the AC compressor to shut off after 2-3 minutes. If an air conditioner turns on and off quickly, it might be because of the thermostat. 

Electrical issues

There could be an electrical problem causing the compressor to shut off, such as a malfunctioning relay or capacitor.

Tips: To make your compressor last longer, you can keep leaves and other debris out of the outdoor unit. They can hurt the compressor, fan, or condenser, so keeping it as clean as possible is important.

When your experience AC compressor shuts off after 2-3 minutes, I would suggest you call the HVAC technician before the entire system becomes damaged beyond repair. The cause may be minor, costing only a few dollars to check, whereas an AC compressor replacement is costly. It’s important to have a professional diagnose and fix the AC compressor problem, as attempting to fix the problem yourself could cause further damage to your system.

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Mas Broto
Have been in the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry for over 20 years. He is person that will grow and thrive to learn more about the HVAC industry throughout his career. Mas Broto is also a blogger, who's dedicated to bringing you the best knowledge to get ahead in the game of life.