Does your air conditioner switch on only to switch off again almost immediately? Clearly this is an issue, as your home won't cool down with your air conditioner only running for a few seconds at a time. Some causes of this issue are simple to fix on your own, while others will require professional repair. Here's a look at the most likely causes and how to deal with them:
Your air filter is badly clogged.
If your air conditioner's filter is very badly clogged with dust and debris, your system may not be able to push air through it. Once this is sensed, the safety mechanisms in the air conditioner cause it to switch off. Air filters only cost a few dollars, so it is worthwhile to replace yours and see if this is the issue before you consider more serious causes. Slip the old filter out and slide the new one into place. With any luck, your system will stay on. Remember to change your filter every few months to keep this from happening again.
Your air conditioner's refrigerant is leaking.
If just a little refrigerant leaks out, your unit should still work (though not as effectively). However, if most or all of the refrigerant liquid has leaked out, it can lead to short-cycling like you're experiencing. You might be able to check whether the refrigerant is leaking by placing a piece of white paper under your air conditioner's condenser unit. If colored fluid leaks onto the paper, then a refrigerant leak is to blame for your problems. This is not a problem you should tackle on your own, as attempting to refill refrigerant without a license will likely void your air conditioner's warranty. Your HVAC technician can test and repair the leak appropriately, which should allow your air conditioner to work properly again.
Your ducts are plugged.
If a large item has made its way into your ductwork, it could be completely plugging the ducts and causing the air conditioner's safety mechanism to shut it off as soon as it turns on. Take the covers off of your air vents and see if you can see a blockage in your ducts. You might be able to hook it and pull it out with a long pole. If you can see a blockage but cannot reach it, you'll need to have a professional come remove it for you.
Your thermostat is not working properly.
Sometimes, a malfunctioning thermostat might cause the air conditioner to switch on and off again. You can check for some minor thermostat-related issues on your own. Make sure the batteries are functional (if they're old and starting to short out, this can lead to the issues you're experiencing). Also, unscrew the thermostat from the wall, and make sure all of the wires are attached. If they look like they're coming loose, you can twist them onto the leads to which they are attached more firmly. If your wires are completely disconnected, you can look for your thermostat's instructions and use them to guide you in re-attaching them properly -- or you can have your HVAC technician do this for you.
The air conditioner's sensor is not working.
If everything looks okay on your thermostat's end, the issue might be with the sensor on your air conditioner that detects signals from your thermostat. This is not an issue you can easily detect or fix on your own. So, if you don't think any of the other possible causes on this list are to blame for your air conditioner's issues, have your HVAC tech out to inspect the sensors.
As you can see, there are many issues that can cause an air conditioner to switch on and then off again. Luckily, most of these are rather simple for either you or your HVAC technician to fix. So talk with a repair company in your area, like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc.. You should not have to go without cool air for long.