Home AppliancesAir Conditioner

What Is “Hard Starting” in an Air Conditioning System?

Air Conditioner Inside The Room With Woman Operating Remote Controller.

For most homeowners, air conditioners are an expensive investment around the house. That is why a hard-starting device can be a huge problem that must be dealt with quickly.

Like most electrical appliances, air conditioners are also occasionally prone to malfunctions. One of these common issues in the unit is hard starting.

We have gathered some helpful information about the problem and what to do when your AC unit is acting up.


Hard starting in an air conditioner results from a low voltage supply to the compressor and motors. This is caused by faulty capacitors, too much heat draining the capacitors, or loose electrical wiring in the unit.

The most common signs of a faulty unit are; trouble with the compressor starting, the unit having short cooling cycles, and hearing stuttering and clicking noises from the compressor.

Additionally, this post will look at what causes hard starting in your aircon and some signs to help you identify the issue.

What Is “Hard Starting” in an AC?

Hard starting occurs when the aircon turns on, but the compressor and motors have trouble starting up or staying on. In most cases, this might be due to a low voltage supply to the components that prevent them from running efficiently.

The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning device. It pumps hot refrigerant from the unit’s evaporators to the condenser, where it is cooled.

The built-up pressure then pushes the cold coolant back to the evaporator coils, where heat is absorbed from the air in the room.

Hard starting can take a massive toll on your air conditioner. Though the unit might continue operating and cooling the house, over time, it can cause damage to the compressor and other internal components.

Additionally, the unit uses a lot of energy to keep running, making it less efficient.

Causes of Hard Starting in an Air Conditioner

As previously mentioned, low voltage is the main culprit that can lead to hard starting in your climate control device.

Here are some of the reasons that can cause the issue:

1. Faulty Capacitors

Air Conditioning Master Preparing To Install New Air Conditioner.

One of the reasons why the compressor might have a low-voltage supply is due to failing capacitors. Capacitors are electrical devices that temporarily store electrical charge to start the compressor.

The compressor requires a lot of power to start up. If the capacitors are defective, they do not have enough voltage to start or keep the compressor running.

2. Too Much Heat

Upset Man Sweating During A Heat Wave In The Summer While At Home With A Cold Ac Unit.

You might also find your aircon struggling to start during the summer or on hot days.

Too much heat can cause a capacitor to drain stored charge. It increases the capacitor’s electrical conductivity, making it more prone to losing voltage. This results in the hard starting occurring.

3. Loose Electrical Wires

A Professional Electrician Man Is Fixing The Heavy Air Conditioner By His Tools On The Roof Top And Wearing Blue Color Of Uniform And Head Cap.

Lastly, the HVAC can also have a problem with loose electrical connections. If wires are not tightly secured, it can interrupt current flow causing the compressor to have a problem starting.

Signs of Hard Starting in an Air Conditioner

Now that you know what can cause hard starting in your air conditioner, let us look at some ways to identify the issue.

1. Trouble With the Compressor Starting

Close Up Air Conditioner Service And Shut Off Valve.

The most noticeable symptom when your unit is hard starting is your compressor having trouble starting. Due to low voltage, the unit might struggle to turn on or require a few seconds or minutes before it starts running.

2. Shorter Cooling Cycles

Man's Hand Using Remote Control Open The Air Conditioner Is Cooled To 25 Degrees Celsius In His Bedroom.

Likewise, hard-starting aircon is common to have shorter cooling cycles. After the compressor starts, it runs for a shorter period before shutting off.

Short Cycles Might Also Indicate Other Issues

If your appliance has a short cooling cycle, it might also be a problem with the compressor or a refrigerant leak. You should call an HVAC repair professional immediately to inspect the unit.

3. Stuttering or Clicking Noises

Asian Woman Feel Annoyed And She Is Suffering Noise From Heating At Home

You might also notice stutter or clicking noises if your air conditioning device is hard starting. A relay switch closes a circuit allowing current flow to the compressor, causing the clicking.

During a hard start, the clicks become more frequent as the compressor struggles to start.

How To Fix Hard Starting in Your Air Conditioner

Though it might seem like a good DIY project, fixing a hard-starting air conditioner is not a good idea. The unit’s internal components are fragile and complex; damage to them might mean costly repair or buying a new unit.

Though you might be tempted to get a hard start kit, calling a qualified repair professional is your safest bet. They can identify the source of the problem and fix it without hassle.


If your air conditioner is hard starting, you might have a problem with the compressor receiving low voltage. This is usually caused by faulty capacitors, too much heat, or loss of wire connections.

Signs of a hard-starting aircon device include: your compressor having trouble starting, the unit having shorter cooling cycles, and hearing clicking or stuttering noises from the compressor.

Regular maintenance is the best way to ensure that your HVAC does not start hard. To fix the issue, you should always call a repair professional to have a look at the unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes a Hard Start on an Air Conditioner?

There are several reasons why your air conditioner might be hard to start. They include:

  • Defective capacitors
  • Too much heat causes capacitors to drain
  • Loose electrical connections

Does Hard Starting Cause Damage to the Air Conditioner?

A hard-starting air conditioner can get significantly damaged. The compressor needs to work harder, with low voltage, to keep running, which can lead to wear and tear in the unit.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *