Air Compressor Keeps Shutting Off [Issues & Solutions]

If you have an air compressor that you are using in your shop or for your home use, you know that it is important for your air compressor to turn on and fully charge before you can use it. This is a crucial part of the optimal function of an air compressor and you will want to be sure that your air compressor is working properly so that you can take care of all of the jobs that you use it for.

If your air compressor keeps shutting off before it should, it could be due to a short circuit, damage to a valve or the pump, or problems with the connections to the air compressor.

There are some ways that you can troubleshoot this problem before you determine that a part has failed. If you have a warranty on your air compressor, you should just be able to call out the repair technician to take care of this need for you.

If you want to learn more about the reason that your air compressor keeps shutting off, you need to read on!

How Often Should Your Air Compressor Turn On and Off?

When an air compressor is working properly, it should cycle one and off every 15 to 20 minutes. This works out to a few times an hour under heavy use. If you are having issues where the pump is not working or the air compressor is not getting the right pressure built up, your air compressor could turn on many more times than that each hour.

A fully functional air compressor should charge up quickly after each time that it cycles and you should not experience a reduction in performance when the charging process is going on after the compressor has warmed up.

There are some common reasons that your air compressor might be turning on and off too frequently and you should make sure that you note whether or not it is getting up to pressure each time it does so.

Common Reasons for Air Compressors to Turn on and Off Frequently

1.Electrical Issues

If there are interruptions in the power that is going to your air compressor, this could cause the air compressor to cycle far too frequently. If you have lots of items sharing the same outlet as the air compressor, this could be the reason that this is taking place, or you might have a wiring issue that is leading to problems with the connection to your air compressor.

If you think that there is something wrong with the wiring that you have had installed when the air compressor was put in, you should consider having an electrician come look at the issue.

You might have the wrong breaker box or the wrong size wiring attached to the air compressor, which could lead to a dangerous situation. If you wired your air compressor yourself, you will need to go back through the wiring that you installed and make sure that this is not the reason for your problem.


If the connections of different parts attached to your air compressor are not secured properly, this could lead to leaks which will cause the air compressor to cycle frequently.

This is a common problem with air compressors that are delivered for home use and you might be able to simply tighten connections that are leaking and solve the issue. If you have a bigger leak, from a cracked tank, for example, this will require replacement of the entire unit or the visit of a repair person to see if the issue can be resolved.

Leaks can cause all kinds of problems with the performance of your air compressor besides cycling on and off too frequently and you should make sure that you pay attention to the loss of pressure and reduce performance when you think that a leak might be the reason for the air compressor turning on and off frequently.

3.Pump Problems

If your air compressor has a pump that has gone bad, this can cause the air compressor to turn on and off frequently. One of the signs that this is the reason for this problem is that your air compressor will also take a very long time to charge up with air and might not be usable when it cycles.

Broken pumps can sometimes be replaced, but this is one of the kinds of issues that often lead to needing to replace the entire unit. Taking apart an air compressor is rarely cost-effective unless you have a very large unit that was quite expensive to purchase. Most compressors that are under warranty will simply be replaced for this kind of part failure.

4.Gasket Issue

If your pump is working but has a damaged gasket, there might be the air that is leaking out of the holding chamber within the compressor that leads to it turning on and off frequently. These kinds of leaks can be harder to diagnose since they are often smaller leaks and might only cause the air compressor to turn on a few extra times an hour for a while.

Once the gasket has completely failed, your air compressor will be useless and you will have to replace the entire pump or the whole unit. This is a harder problem to diagnose without a repair person’s help, but you will find that this is not a common problem to have to attend to.

5.Shutoff Switch Issues

If the shutoff switch on your air compressor is broken or has failed over time, your air compressor might not know what to turn on and shut off. Air compressors with damaged shutoff switches tend to cycle randomly and might experience very reduced performance while the damaged switch is still in place.

This is an easy problem to diagnose in most cases since the behavior of the compressor will be very erratic or it will refuse to work at all.

This switch is usually an easy part to replace and you will see an immediate improvement in the function of your air compressor once the replacement has been put in place.

If the compressor has been running poorly due to this switch for a long time, there might be other damaged parts that can be harder to fix. While this one part is small and easy to fix, the overall job might be a big one if there has been other damage.

6.Draw of Other Tools

Your air compressor will perform best if there are no other high-draw items that are sharing an outlet with it. An air compressor can need quite a lot of power to function when it is cycling, and if you have other tools that are being used on the same outlet, this could cause performance issues for both items.

Having a high-draw item competing with your air compressor for power can lead to thrown breaker switches and even electrical fires as well. This is one of the more common reasons that your air compressor might be turning on and off too frequently and it is an easy problem to solve.

You should make sure that all your other tools and appliances are plugged into another switch and circuit for optimal performance of your air compressor and your other tools during your daily tasks.

7.Short Circuit

While not common, sometimes a wire within your air compressor might come loose and get grounded periodically where it should not be.

While this often leads to issues that prevent the use of the air compressor or prevent it from turning on, it can also lead to problems where the air compressor cycles too frequently. This is one of the few issues that should cause you to be concerned about using your air compressor until it is fixed.

Any kind of grounded wire can lead to damage to the rest of a motor or machine and you should stop using your air compressor if you think that this might be the reason for its behavior. Grounded wires can damage many parts of your air compressor and you should avoid this outcome if possible.

Air Compressors That Turn on and Off Frequently Need to be Examined for Failures

If your air compressor is turning on and off frequently and you are sure that the wiring arrangement in your shop or garage is not the reason for this, you should have someone come look at your air compressor as soon as possible.

Operating an air compressor that is experiencing this problem can lead to permanent damage to the unit as well as risk to the safety of your shop and your coworkers if you own a business.

Taking care to be aware of issues with your air compressor’s performance is an important part of making sure that it will hold up to the test of time. Noticing when things are not working properly is a great way to stay ahead of any possible problems that could lead to permanent damage to your air compressor unit.

      Residential & Commercial Air Compressors