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Why Is My AC Compressor Overheating and Shutting off?

When AC problems arise, the compressor is a common culprit. The AC compressor keeps coolant flowing through the AC. There are several factors that could cause the AC compressor to stop functioning properly. A trained HVAC professional can take the guesswork out of your AC problems. To make sure you keep your cool, call Humble’s AC repair experts at Crew Heating & Cooling at 832-345-9932.

If you’re asking, “Why is my AC compressor overheating and shutting off?” keep reading to learn the answer!


Every AC unit needs an adequate amount of space around it in order to work properly. The owner’s manual should indicate how much space your unit requires. If the compressor is too close to a wall or dense vegetation, it can lead to overheating.

Wrong Size for the Space

Air conditioners work hard, but they can only handle so much. Is the AC unit designed for a smaller room?

If the unit is in a 1,000-square-foot room but only has the power to cool a 400-square-foot room, it won’t be able to rise to the challenge and will be more likely to overheat.


If you’re wondering, “Why is my AC compressor overheating and shutting off?” the next question you should ask yourself is, “When was the last time I serviced my AC unit?”

Air conditioners need regular maintenance. Not only should you change the filter regularly, but you should have a trained HVAC technician perform an annual inspection. A professional will be able to spot damage inside your unit and repair it before it becomes a problem, saving you money in the long run.

It’s Just Old

Even with regular maintenance, your compressor will eventually reach the end of its life.  A well-maintained air conditioning unit should last at least 15 years. If your AC is older than that, you should let a professional look at it.

It’s Dirty

A dirty filter impedes the airflow inside your air conditioner, putting stress on the compressor and causing the internal temperature to rise. If the air filter is clean, check the condenser coils. They reach outside the unit and are magnets for debris. 

Power Surge

The air conditioner’s capacitor regulates electricity as the unit starts and continues running. In the event of a power surge, the capacitor can become damaged due to a high voltage level. Your air conditioner can not run properly without a fully functional capacitor.  

Exposure to the Elements

 Air conditioning units need proper insulation.  Daily exposure to weather, such as harsh sun and even rain or snow, can cause the insulation to break down. That’s why it is crucial to be proactive about the care of your unit and schedule regular maintenance by a trained professional. During the annual inspection of your air conditioning unit, the HVAC professional will determine whether the insulation is adequate while looking for other potential problems. 

If there is a significant amount of insulation deterioration, your compressor will overheat. The cost of hiring a professional to update the insulation will cost far less than having to replace the entire unit due to extensive damage.  

It Has Outdated Parts

Just because your compressor was sufficient three years ago doesn’t mean it will be up to the same standard this year. As temperatures climb, the demand on your compressor will grow, and it may not be up to the task. The more you know about the environmental strain of your air conditioning unit, the easier it will be to determine if it is time to upgrade. 

Don’t Make This Mistake

When your AC system starts to overheat, it may seem like a good idea to turn it off when you aren’t home, especially if it has started short cycling. However, it is not always best to turn off the AC unit when you are away from home.

While it may work for a short time, it is not a long-term solution. Turning off your air conditioner when you are not home is no more wallet-friendly than keeping a properly working unit running. 

Let Our Experts Help

It is never smart to try and diagnose an electrical problem on your own. While the cause of your AC compressor overheating and shutting off may be a quick fix, the safest option is to have a trained professional assess the situation. 

Instead of asking yourself, “Why is my AC compressor overheating and shutting off?” ask our professionals! We have years of experience working with cooling systems. 

Call our Crew Heating & Cooling team today at 832-345-9932 to schedule your cooling service in Humble, Texas.