Why Does AC Compressor Cycle On And Off? See The Reasons

by Mario Garcia
Why Does AC Compressor Cycle On And Off

An air conditioner is nothing without a compressor. So, this topic is relevant to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re using an air conditioner in your car or at home. 

All air conditioners function the same way. If the temperature is high, their role is to bring it down. That’s how they work.

It’s normal for the compressor of an air conditioner to cycle on and off. If yours constantly works without cycling, bear in mind that your appliance is faulty. 

Now here’s the question many have been asking. 

Why does the AC compressor cycle on and off?

If your AC compressor cycles on and off, don’t fret. That’s the first you need to know. Most people may start thinking that their appliance is faulty, whereas that isn’t the case.

The reason your AC compressor switches on and off now and then is because it’s working. Whenever the air in the room or car becomes hot, your AC compressor must cycle to cool it down to the needed room temperature. 

Continue reading to get more details on this topic. 

What Is AC Compressor Cycle Time 

If you pay close attention to your AC while in use, you’ll discover when it’s cycling on and off. It does it from time to time when in use.

Now, what does AC compressor cycle time mean? It refers to the time it takes the compressor to start working again and cools down the room’s temperature or environment. 

The AC compressor has to bring the room’s temperature to the temperature programmed on the thermostat.   

A Handy Tip:  Understand that the AC compressor’s cycle time isn’t set in stone. It also doesn’t have a specific duration but a range. It might cycle within 15 – 20 minutes, and this might happen 2 or 3 times in an hour. 

Why Your AC Compressor Is Working Non-stop

Is your AC compressor running non-stop? That is, it doesn’t have a short cycle. Is this how you have been using it? 

If your answer is yes, you’re making a mistake. Your AC compressor is not supposed to work non-stop in any circumstance. It doesn’t matter if the weather is super hot or not. 

If your AC compressor has been working non-stop, it’s a sign that your unit is faulty and needs fixing. 

But before you contact an HVAC technician, let’s understand what causes the AC compressor to keep working non-stop. 

Low refrigerant levels:

Low refrigerants can make it impossible for an air conditioner to cool a room or an environment. Your air-conditioner will still be functioning under reduced refrigerant levels. 

But this time around, the AC has to do more work to cool your room. In the worst case scenario, the AC won’t b able to cool your room or car properly, as expected. 

What causes reduced refrigerant levels? Several things could be responsible. It could be possible leakage in your coil. Furthermore, the refrigerant level might have also dropped by itself.   

Can you fix this problem? Yes, you can. 

However, you can’t and shouldn’t try fixing issues related to the refrigerant yourself. Let your HVAC technician do that. 

The technician must try to locate where the leakage occurred, block the leakage, and add more refrigerant to the required level. 

Dirt-laden evaporator coil:

If your car AC isn’t working as it should, another area you should check is the evaporator coil. This coil is situated in the AC blower compartment, or you can call it the air handler. 

The evaporator coil is responsible for holding chilled refrigerants. The compressor sends these refrigerants there. 

When the blower fan starts moving air over the evaporator coil harboring the chilled refrigerant, heat from the air of your home will start moving out.  

Dirt and debris-laden evaporator coil are bad for your unit. It can affect your AC’s cooling process, making it difficult for the AC to cool down your room.

If your evaporator coil happens to be laden with dirt, then you aren’t doing your compressor any good. It will cause your compressor to work even harder to cool down your car or room. 

How can you fix this problem?

Normally, you might think fixing this problem is easy. After all, keeping the evaporator coil debris-free would fix the problem. 

Please don’t try fixing the AC evaporator coil issue. You have to contact an HVAC technician to help you fix the problem. 

A Handy Tip: There are several ways you can identify a faulty evaporator coil. Here are five different signs. 

  1. The air gushing out of the vents would be warm to the touch.
  2. When you discover your air conditioner no longer turns on. 
  3. Your AC always starts and then stops far too frequently. Yet, it doesn’t cool your car or home properly. 
  4. You discovered refrigerant leaking close to the AC indoor cooling system’s components. 
  5. Unusual noises emanating from the AC cooling system. It could be a hissing or banging sound. 

AC auto-climate setting:

If your air conditioner compressor keeps running non-stop, please check your auto-climate setting. Please note that season doesn’t matter. That is, it doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter. 

If the compressor continues to work non-stop, check if you had the climate setting turned on. If you did not, please pay attention to other factors mentioned here. 

Final Note

The question is, why does the AC compressor cycle on and off? We also took the time to provide the needed answer to the question in this post. 

The compressor is like the brain box of your air conditioner. It helps to generate the required refrigerants needed to initiate heat exchange via the evaporator coil. It does other things to make the air conditioner function, as it should.

However, if your air conditioner cycles on and off at different intervals, then it’s working accordingly. But if it works non-stop, your unit is faulty. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the winter or summer months. 

We also discussed factors that can cause your air conditioner to work non-stop. But remember that an air conditioner is one appliance you shouldn’t try to flex your DIY muscle on. If it’s faulty, you need to let an HVAC technician fix it. 


So, why does the AC compressor cycle on and off? We hope you now understand what a compressor does and why it goes on and off. Different factors can contribute to the cycling efficiency of an air conditioner.

Keep in mind the roles that each of these aspects plays.AC plays a significant role in cooling down our homes and cars, especially during the hot weather. So, ensuring it functions properly is paramount. 

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