What Causes the Compressor of an AC to Cycle Before a Room Is Cool


You may have noticed that the compressor of your home air conditioning system goes on and off even when the temperature of your room has not yet reached the thermostat settings. This article discusses some of the defects that can cause this to happen.

Low Refrigerant Level

A leak may have caused the refrigerant to go below the recommended level. When that happens, the compressor may overheat since insufficient refrigerant may be passing through it. Refrigerant vapor keeps the compressor windings cool. When inadequate vapor hovers over the windings, overheating results. This problem can cause permanent damage to the compressor if it is not solved as soon as it is detected.

Excess Refrigerant

You may have accidentally overcharged (put in more than the needed amount) refrigerant in your AC. When that happens, the compressor will overwork because the refrigerant will not circulate normally within the system since there is an excess that limits available circulation space. Thus, a sensor within the compressor may shut it off to allow it to cool.

A Constricted Discharge Tube

There is a gas discharge tube inside your system's compressor. That tube allows gasses formed inside the compressor (due to heating the refrigerant) to escape. That discharge tube may have become bent or kinked to such an extent that gas can no longer flow through it. The result of this constriction is that the compressor will overheat and trip a safety switch.

Seized Compressor Bearings

A compressor may also cycle because of insufficient lubrication. The bearings may be getting very little oil and this may cause them to be stuck at some point during the operation of the compressor. Once they seize, the compressor will shut off so that it can cool. As it cools, the limited amount of oil will slowly circulate over the bearings until they again start moving freely. This will re-start the compressor.

Limited Airflow around the Compressor

Compressors are also kept cool by the ambient air around them. If this airflow is restricted (such as by boxes pilled around the outdoor unit), the compressor will overheat and shut itself down. This will give it time to cool then it will re-start once it has cooled sufficiently.

Examine each of the factors above and take any remedial actions that you can take so that your home air conditioning system runs optimally. For instance, keep the area around the outdoor unit free from objects that can limit airflow. Call an HVAC technician to handle the more technical aspects (such as checking the discharge tube) that you may be incapable of handling on your own.


2 October 2015

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