Why does My Air Compressor Kick On and Off [Discussed]

Why does My Air Compressor Kick On and Off

You’re working on a project and the air compressor kicks on, then off. It’s frustrating to have your work interrupted by an unreliable tool.

Air compressors are expensive pieces of equipment that should last for years if properly maintained. But they can be difficult to diagnose when something goes wrong because there are so many different parts involved in the process.

Now we have the question of “why does my air compressor kick on and off?”

Causes of Why Does My Air Compressor Kick On And Off

Causes Of Why Does My Air Compressor Kick On And Off

The following pointers that are the main causes of an air compressor turning on and off should be kept in mind to avoid the hassle of diagnosing a faulty air conditioner.

NO #1: The Timer

Many air compressors include a built-in timer to regulate the length of time that the air compressor is allowed to run. This feature is especially useful if your tool does not shut off automatically when you release the trigger on your spray gun

On many models, this type of automatic AC compressor failure cannot be disabled and could potentially cause the air conditioning to turn on and off.

NO #2: The Temperature

If your air conditioner kicks on and off, it could be because of hot temperatures. When the weather is extremely hot, the metal parts inside the motor might expand.

This expansion can cause problems with electrical connections, causing them to get loose or even disconnect over time. When these metal parts cool down, they contract and can lead to a loose connection.

NO #3: The Supply Voltage

In areas where the power supply is not very stable, air compressors may kick on or off repeatedly. It’s important for homeowners to check whether or not appliances such as an air conditioner compressor are compatible with the voltage at their homes.

NO #4: The Refrigerant Oil Level

The Refrigerant Oil Level

It is necessary to inspect the refrigerant oil level frequently to ensure that the compressor doesn’t overheat and turn off unexpectedly.

If there is no oil in your air conditioner, your system will lock up, causing it to shut down abruptly. This could lead you to believe that the problem lies elsewhere.

NO #5: Air Leaks

In case your system is leaking air, you might experience problems that result in the compressor short cycling. If you use multiple devices at one time or do not have a fully pressurized tank and poor indoor air quality, this is especially true.

The reduced pressure level will cause the tank to provide intermittent bursts of compressed air, making the compressor kick on and off.

NO #6: The Refrigerant Leak

A refrigerant leak will cause your compressor to work much harder than normal, which could lead to it turning on and off unexpectedly. If you suspect there might be a problem with your refrigerant level, you should bring in a professional to inspect your unit.

NO #7: The Exhaust Leak

The air compressor’s exhaust system must be leak-free to ensure the proper operation of the tool.

A faulty or damaged exhaust can cause short-cycling, which could lead to the compressor turning on and off repeatedly. This is especially true if you are using an older model.

NO #8: The Switch

The Switch

A faulty switch can cause the AC compressor to turn on and off intermittently. Since most switches are fairly inexpensive, you might want to consider replacing yours if it is worn or damaged in any way.

A broken switch could potentially cause the air conditioner to shut down completely, which will stall your work until it is fixed.

NO #9: The Pressure Switch Terminals

A pressure switch that is not properly adjusted will turn the AC compressor on and off at a given level of pressure. A faulty or loose wire connection can lower this pressure threshold, which could lead to more frequent on and off cycles.

Pressure switch points repairs are often fairly easy to make and will only require a screwdriver.

NO #10: The Air Filter

A clogged air filter can lead to reduced performance, which could cause the compressor to turn on and off frequently as it tries to keep up with demand.

If your air compressor is running constantly due to a clogged air filter, it can potentially cause an even greater strain on your pressure switch.

NO #11: The Start Capacitor

The start capacitor provides a burst of electric current to start the compressor. If the air conditioner is too old, it might use an AC compressor capacitor that requires more power than your unit can provide.

This will make the compressor try to turn itself on and off repeatedly until it has burned out its capacitor.

Finally, a worn-out compressor will not be able to maintain a stable pressure level, which might turn it on and off because of fluctuating power. Inspect your air compressor carefully before you decide to have it repaired.

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What Causes an Air Compressor to Short Cycle?

When it comes to air compressor cycles, short cycling can be a huge annoyance. It can cause the compressor to turn on and off more frequently, and in turn, use more energy.

This pressure or temperature control differential is a too-small short cycling issue that can be easily fixed by making sure that your differential is set at a comfortable range.

A pressure switch also has to be at the right pressure level in order for your unit to run smoothly.

How to Care for Your Air Compressor?

How to Care for Your Air Compressor

The following basic maintenance tips will help keep your air compressor running smoothly.

i) Regularly inspect the motor circuit, motor run capacitor, belts, and pulleys to ensure there is no damage. If necessary, replace the belt with a spare one you have in your workshop.

ii) Unless otherwise noted, remember that a cool air compressor runs best while it’s cold. Perform routine maintenance on the air compressor evaporator coil by checking the oil level during use.

iii) Make sure the tank is empty before storing it to prevent rust and corrosion.

iv) Never leave water in your air compressor when not in use; this will reduce its efficiency, shorten the life of the heat pump, and possibly cause damage to other components.

v) If it has a drain plug, make sure you remove all of the moisture before replacing the plug.

vi) Make sure all bolts are properly tightened to avoid leaks.

vii) Keep it clean by removing dirt and grease with oil after every use. Remember to wear protective gloves when cleaning the air compressor with solvents, gasoline, or any other chemicals.


So if you hear your air compressor turning off and on frequently, then there is probably something wrong with the unit.

You should check for any visible leakage or damage to determine what exactly is going wrong within the system. If this doesn’t solve the issue, it might be time to bring in a professional.

Hope this article helps you to understand the causes of air compressors turning on and off frequently. If you have any queries or want to leave feedback, feel free to do so in the comment section below.

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Why does My Air Compressor Kick On and Off [Discussed]

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