10 Reasons Portable Air Conditioner Compressor Keeps Shutting Off

When you buy a portable air conditioner, you expect it to work for as long as possible without breaking down. If your portable air conditioner continues shutting off after short periods of time, it can be a major irritation. So, what could be the problem? Why does your portable air conditioner compressor keeps shutting off?

The process of continuously shutting off a portable air conditioner is known as short cycling. In the HVAC world, short cycling is a situation where your AC or furnace becomes stuck in the start-up cycle and turns off/on fast, never finishing a cooling cycle in its entirety. The “short-cycle” refers to the amount of time your HVAC system is really functioning, and the shorter this cycle is, the harder your system has to work.

Short cycling can be caused by a clogged or dirty air filter, an undersized or oversized AC, a leaky ventilation system, or defective thermostats reading incorrect temperatures. Continue reading to learn why this occurs and how to deal with similar issues.

Why Does Your Portable AC Compressor Keep Shutting Off?

  • Restricted Airflow

There should be sufficient airflow in and out of the room for your portable AC to work well. When there’s inadequate airflow, your Ac compressor will have to struggle to keep up with the little air available. This will make the compressor overheat and shut off in the long run. 

If you try turning it on when it’s still at a high temperature, it won’t until the temperature reduces. Additionally, the obstruction of airflow could be a result of frozen evaporator coils. The evaporator coils require a certain amount of airflow to keep working. 

If there’s low airflow than the recommended amount, it will make the coils’ temperature drop below the adequate temperature. As a result, the evaporator coil will turn cold and eventually freeze up. 

To solve this problem, ensure your portable AC has enough space around it. This will allow air to flow in and out of the room, reducing the chances of airflow blockage. Remove furniture, decorations, or plants around your portable AC.  

Another thing you should do is to check the vent hose to see if there are solid objects that cause blockage. Pay keen attention to the open end of the vent hose to ensure nothing is blocking it from outside the window or hole.

Read Also: Can I Run AC Without Filter – Learn From Experts

  • Blockage on The Condenser Coils

Another possible reason why your portable AC condenser keeps turning off is a blockage in the condenser coils. Clogged condenser coils reduce the airflow rate through them, and your portable AC will struggle to keep up with the challenge. 

As a result, the condenser will overheat, making it go off. The extreme change in temperature will make the AC have a short cycle. If your portable AC has accessible condenser coils, use a soft brush to clean it gently in an up-down motion to remove dirt or dust. Doing this will a lot of care since coils are delicate. You should clean the coils at least once every year to help prolong the lifespan of your AC and to keep it functional. Note that if you interfere with the condenser coils while cleaning, it can result in refrigerant leakage, and you will have to replace the coils. 

To prevent dirt accumulation in the hose, keep your portable AC away from plants or foliage. If you can’t access the condenser coils, consider vacuuming the portable AC. 

  • Your Portable AC Doesn’t Have Refrigerant

All portable AC’s use a vapor compression cycle to aid the cooling process. This is to say the refrigerant that flows within the lines is never used up. All it does is keep converting from liquid to gases and vice versa to aid in the cooling process. 

This means your portable AC needs to maintain the same quantity of refrigerant regardless of its operating hours. When the amount of refrigerant in your system reduces, there’s leakage between the lines. 

If your refrigerant lines are leaking, it will cause short cycling because of low-pressure levels. This will result in low refrigerant amounts making your portable AC shut down occasionally. But when the pressure goes up, your portable AC will turn on. 

If your portable AC keeps turning on and off, it will consume a lot of power, reducing its life span and causing wear and tear. 

To solve this problem, identify where the leakage is. Doing this may not be easy. But if your portable AC has a scratch or bend, that could be the leak area.  After identifying this spot, look at how to repair it. Then add refrigerant in small quantity through the suction line. 

Ensure the refrigerant is compatible with your portable AC. Also, do this in intervals to enable your AC to stabilize. It’s advisable to do this process only if you’ve done it before as it requires experience. If not, call your technician, who will identify the leakage, repair it, and recharge it for you.

  • Your Portable AC’s Control Panel Has the Wrong Settings

Before concluding that any of the above reasons could be the cause of your portable AC shutting occasionally, check if the control panel has the right settings. Look if the timer setting is on, especially if your portable AC keeps stopping after the same time duration. If it’s on, that could be the reason. Turn it off. 

Another thing to check is the temperature settings. If it’s similar to the temperature of your environment, it may be the cause of regular shutting off. This is because it can reach the set temperature faster than go off before turning on after a slight temperature change. But if the surrounding temperature is below the selected temperature on the settings, it will not work. 

  • A Problem in The Compressor Unit

The compressor unit is a crucial part of the portable AC that uses a vapor compression cycle. It exerts pressure on the refrigerant, which later expands to create a cooling effect that regulates the temperature in the room

If it has a problem like a buildup preventing the smooth flow of refrigerant, the compressor will overheat. It will shut off until the temperature reduces. This will go on for some time until you solve the problem. 

If the compressor is overheating because of a problem within it, this rarely happens to change or repair it. But call an HVAC technician to do it for you. 

Since replacing or repairing a compressor is expensive, it’s advisable to buy a new portable AC. So, make a wise decision before calling your technician.

  • It Could Be a Faulty Electrical Component

Sometimes the problem might be the electrical components on your portable AC compressor. It could be that the wires are burnt, there’s a faulty relay, or the capacitator is interrupting the power supply. 

So, check your electrical connections to identify where the problem is. Look at every wire and check if the connectors are not loose. Call your technician to install a capacitor or relay if you’ve never done it before. 

  • Your Portable AC Has a Dirty Filter

When your portable AC has a dirty filter, it will keep turning off. This is because the air coming from the AC passes through the evaporator coils after the air filter cleans it. After some time, the filter accumulates dust and dirt, which you need to cleanout. 

You should clean the filter after some hours of work. It’s advisable to do this several times a day depending on the amount of air that passes through it. Note that without cleaning the filter, dirt accumulation prevents smooth airflow. 

The reduced airflow will make the compressor strain work. In the end, your portable AC will overheat and shut off before the cycle is complete. If you allow this to happen, it will wreck the compressor. It can also result in your portable AC producing more water than it should. 

To avoid such problems, remove the filter, clean it and return it. But most portable AC has a filter reset indicator which automatically turns on when the filter is dirty. This is an indication that you should remove it and clean it before refitting.

  • Insufficient Cooling Capacity

Another reason your air conditioner is constantly turning off is that it is too large or oversized for your space. When you use a high-capacity air conditioner in a tiny room, you might expect better cooling, but the reality is that it will be inefficient. It might immediately cool the space and then turn off after a limited period of operation. This will use more energy and turning on and off your system repeatedly will put more pressure on your system.

  • Frozen Evaporator Coils

Ice can form on the evaporator coils of your portable air conditioner for a number of reasons. One of the most prevalent causes is a dirty filter that blocks airflow, causing coils to freeze. To avoid this, cleaning and maintenance should be performed on a regular basis.

Frozen evaporator coils can also be caused by low refrigerant levels. Low refrigerant forces the system to work harder, causing moisture to freeze on the coils.

  • The problem might be in faulty thermostats

Another typical explanation of your air conditioner’s failing repeatedly isn’t an issue with the AC, but with the thermostat that controls it. It only takes a tiny miscalibration in the thermostat’s temperature sensor to cause it to start shutting off the compressor early, resulting in less cooling space.

Also, make sure your thermostat is not set to a temperature that is near to the room temperature. This may cause your portable air conditioner to turn on and off frequently at short intervals. It will turn off immediately once the set temperature is reached and then come back on with a tiny temperature deflection.

In The End

If your portable AC compressor keeps shutting off, take your time and check where the problem could be. After identifying the cause, use the right procedure to solve it. But if the repair is expensive, consider buying a new system.

Relevant Resources:

  1. Best 5 Space Heater That Won’t Trip Breaker – Reviews in 2021
  2. Can You Use a Window Air Conditioner Without a Window – What You Should Know
  3. How to Seal a Window Air Conditioner for the Winter – 6 Easy Steps
  4. Why Is My Apartment So Hot – Top Reasons and How to Cool It
  5. Air Conditioner Starts Then Stops After Only a Few Seconds – 8 Effective Solutions

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