Why is my AC compressor overheating and shutting off?

Have you ever experienced the frustration of your AC compressor overheating and shutting off, leaving you in a sweltering mess?

Picture this: it’s a scorching summer day, and you eagerly retreat indoors, seeking the solace of cool air. But alas, your AC has other plans.

It decides to play the role of a stubborn teenager, throwing tantrums by overheating and abruptly shutting down.

Like a detective, you search for answers, pondering the possible culprits behind this AC mystery.

But, you just don’t know where to start. Or, you can’t seem to locate the source of the problem.

Well, luckily for you, today, I will help you answer the question “Why is my AC compressor overheating and shutting off?”

Why is my AC compressor overheating and shutting off / AC compressor overheating causes

Below are the different possible causes for your AC compressor overheating and shutting off (I will give you the solutions in a while):

1.      The filters and condenser coils are dirty

With time, the filters will accumulate plenty of dirt (and other debris).

In turn, this will create quite some pressure on the compressor making it to overwork and subsequently, to overheat.

Also, it is inevitable for the condenser coils to have dirt deposits as they are exposed to outdoor conditions.

Now, these deposits will make it hard for the coils to cool the refrigerant (which is hot due to the indoor heat).

This hot refrigerant will then find its way to the compressor and will overheat it.

2.      The condenser fan assembly might be faulty

As you might know, the condenser fan helps in cooling the condenser coils.

When a part of the condenser fan assembly fails, it will impede the heat loss mechanism of the condenser coils.

This might be anything from the fan motor to the blades being bad.

3.      The evaporator coils are frozen

If there is ice buildup on these coils, it will prevent them from absorbing the indoor heat.

As a result, your compressor will start overworking as it tries to cool the room to the set temperatures.

And as such, it will start overheating with time.

4.      You are using your AC in an oversized room

From my experience as a repairman, I have come across clients who were using ACs designed for small rooms in large rooms.

The problem with this is that it causes the compressor to work harder than it should.

Eventually, the compressor will start to overheat.

5.      You have not properly installed your AC

Also, it could be that you’ve not adhered to the installation guidelines for your ACs such as:

  • The AC will require at least 15 cm of open space surrounding its sides and top – enhances proper airflow.
  • For a split AC, it should be mounted at a height of 7 to 8 feet from the ground.
  • You might have your outdoor unit in direct sunlight.
  • The windows and doors in your room might have been left open.

6.      The refrigerant might be leaking

Now, if the refrigerant in your unit starts to leak, it will eventually reach a point where it won’t be enough to cool the room.

And, when this happens, the compressor will start to work harder than usual to cool down the room.

7.      The compressor is old and its parts are worn out

Finally, just like any other electrical component, the compressor will also fail over time.

For the most part, this is signified by the parts wearing out.

Pro tip: The average lifespan of an aircon is 15 to 20 years.

So, if you have been using your compressor for at least 15 years, it could be that it’s approaching its end of life.

Now, when the parts start to wear out, the compressor is forced to work harder than it should hence why it’s overheating.

How to cool down an overheated compressor

Now that we have seen what might be causing your aircon’s compressor to overheat, you might be wondering if there is anything that you can do to cool it down.

Well, the good news is that there are several steps you might take to cool down the overheated compressor.

We have clearly explained these steps in our other article. So, be sure to read the article: AC compressor overheating – solutions you can try.

Why does my AC stop after a few minutes?

To start with, most ACs have a safety thermal switch on the compressor that detects when it is overheating.

Usually, when the compressor overheats, this switch turns off the compressor to give it time to cool down.

With that in mind, it could be that your AC is stopping after a few minutes due to the compressor overheating.

As such, be sure to follow our AC compressor overheating solutions to see if this fixes the AC.

However, an overheating compressor is not the only cause for your air conditioner shutting off after a few minutes.

Other possible causes for your AC turning off after a few minutes include:

  • The drain line might be clogged/full.
  • Your room is too small for your AC.
  • The cool differential might be low.
  • The minimum cycle time might also be small.
  • There might be an acting-up motor or capacitor.

Now, for a better guide on how you can troubleshoot and fix these other possible causes, be sure to read our other article: AC cycles on and off every few minutes [Solved].

Why is my AC compressor overheating and shutting off – final words

In the end, understanding why your AC compressor overheats and shuts off is key to restoring the cool comfort you desire.

By identifying the underlying causes, such as dirty coils or a leaking refrigerant, you can take proactive measures to prevent future disruptions.

Finally, remember that regular maintenance and timely repairs will keep your AC compressor running smoothly for long.


Symptoms of an AC compressor overheating [plus solutions]

Split AC compressor not working but fan is running [Fixed]

Window air conditioner not blowing cold air but running [Solved]

Portable air conditioner not blowing cold air but running [Fixed]

Air conditioner modes explained [And when to use each setting]

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