An air conditioner takes heat from the air within your home, transports it outside, and recirculates the newly cooled air throughout your home. Learn how the air conditioning compressor, a crucial part of your air conditioner, works and what has to be done to maintain it.

1. What is an air conditioning compressor?

Central air conditioning systems consist of an evaporator, a condenser, and a compressor. The compressor acts as a middleman between the condenser, the unit outside your home, and the evaporator, which is housed inside your air conditioner.

Warm air is drawn through return air vents into each room of your home by your air conditioner. Heat is absorbed by coils in the evaporator unit’s gaseous refrigerant. To release the heat, the heat-filled refrigerant is pushed outside to the condenser unit. Restarting the operation requires the refrigerant to return to the evaporator.

air conditioning compressor
Air conditioning compressor

Refrigerant emerges from the evaporator of an air conditioner as a low-pressure gas. The refrigerant must be in a higher temperature, higher pressure form in order to release the heat it has absorbed. The compressor compresses the molecules in the gas-based refrigerant, raising both the temperature and pressure of the refrigerant. The heat that is currently contained in the high-temperature refrigerant flows to the cooler air outside where it may be released through the condenser because heat moves from warm to cool surfaces.

>> Read more: Air Conditioning Systems

2. Warning Signs of Bad Air Conditioning Compressor

2.1. Loud Banging Noises

You should be informed immediately if your HVAC system begins to make loud banging or growling noises and you observe associated tremors. Failure of the AC compressor is one of the issues it could indicate.

The compressor is having problems starting and is most likely to fail in the future based on these AC noises. The compressor’s electrical parts failing is also indicated by the hammering noise.

As soon as possible, turn off your appliance and get in touch with a technician to have your system thoroughly inspected.

2.2. Increasing electricity bills

Your home’s air conditioning compressor will use more energy and run more frequently if it has to work harder to cool your house, which will significantly raise your electricity costs.

Therefore, it is cause for concern if you see an unexpected increase in your expenses without a corresponding increase in usage. Get your HVAC system tested right away to find out whether it’s acting strangely and needs to be fixed.

signs of bad air conditioning compressor
Increasing electricity bills is a sign of bad air conditioning compressor

2.3. Weak Airflow

One of the early signs of AC compressor failure is a reduction in airflow. But if you keep lowering the thermostat for the first few days because you think your house isn’t cool enough, it could be difficult to detect.

Put your hands under the vents to see if there is a faint airflow. Your air conditioner’s compressor is malfunctioning if you experience little to no airflow or heated air when it should be cool. You need to get it addressed right away by contacting an HVAC expert.

2.4. Tripped Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers trip as a safety precaution to save your gadgets from an electrical overload. It occurs when there is a power spike or when you have too many gadgets running at once.

However, it is not a good indicator and suggests AC compressor failure if your outdoor unit trips the circuit breaker frequently. It indicates that the compressor is overheated and needs more power to operate.

In this situation, turning it back on won’t help; you need to speak with an HVAC expert right away.

>> Read more: Residential Heating and Cooling System

3. Common Causes of Air Conditioner Compressor Failure

Many issues can cause your home air conditioner compressor to fail. 

3.1. Electrical Issues

Contactors, cables, and fuses that have been damaged can result in an electrical failure. Acids accumulate in your system as a result of electrical issues, which causes other AC components to break down as well. Your air conditioner may experience electrical problems as a result of power surges.

Buildup of acid and oxidation is typically a clear indicator of electrical issues with your HVAC system. During a routine examination, a skilled specialist can find acid accumulation and fix it before it gets out of control.

3.2. Improperly Sized Suction Lines

Failure of the AC compressor can result from a suction line that is either too long or too short. Incorrect size might increase pressure and cause the compressor to overheat.

The majority of the time, this problem occurs when an amateur or uneducated professional attempts to repair the line and installs the incorrect size. For any AC repairs, it is usually preferable to consult a professional. They will install the proper length of the suction line because they are aware of the best sort of suction line to use.

3.3. Filling the Air Conditioner With too Much Refrigerant

Do you have any idea how so much extra refrigerant ended up in your system? Have you ever experienced low refrigerant issues and needed to call a service to address them?

An individual with less training could not know how to fill it properly and end up filling it with more than is necessary. The manufacturer’s recommended amount of refrigerant must be precisely matched by the refrigerant levels. Increased pressure in the system brought on by high refrigerant levels can hasten the failure of the AC compressor.

3.4. Filthy Coils

When minerals, dirt, and residue accumulate on the condenser coil, this happens. As a result, the air conditioner is unable to remove enough heat from the system, forcing it to work nonstop all day long to chill your space. The compressor overheats as a result of the elevated pressure and temperature.

>> Read more: AC coil cleaning

3.5. Blocked Suction Lines

Your condenser coils might become blocked largely due to neglect. They cannot discharge heat when they are clogged with dirt and dust, which puts strain on the compressor. Your unit’s inability to cool effectively is one of the earliest symptoms of blocked or damaged suction lines. If the system continues to run in this condition, your compressor can overheat and stop functioning completely.

>> Read more: Common Commercial HVAC Problems and How to Fix

4. Tips Prevent Air Conditioning Compressor Breakdown

4.1. Examine the Wiring

The wiring needs to be checked on a regular basis by a professional because you won’t be doing it yourself during monthly maintenance. Wiring problems can result in acid buildup, which damages numerous parts of your air conditioner, including the compressor, which is the most crucial.

The technician can look for any damaged wires or fuses during the examination and replace them before they cause an acid buildup.

air conditioning compressor house
The wiring needs to be checked on a regular basis

4.2. Remove Clutter Around the Outdoor Unit

Clutter around the outside unit should be removed. It is possible for leaves, dust, filth, and other pollutants to become lodged inside the outdoor unit, preventing it from operating properly. For the outside unit to continue functioning correctly, regular cleaning is essential.

4.3. Clean AC Coils Regularly

In order to prevent the process of heat exchange from being hampered, AC coils must be cleaned frequently because they accumulate a lot of junk. The compressor must work harder to remove the heat when this occurs.

The lesson is to never overlook any warning indications now that you are aware of all the reasons why AC compressor failure occurs. The delay will just worsen the situation rather than solve it. You might choose an HVAC preventative maintenance contract if you are unable to maintain your system on your own. By doing this, the underlying problems can be resolved before they have a chance to harm the compressor.

4.4. Keep the Suction Lines Clean

Changes in temperature and pressure might affect how well your compressor functions normally. Due to an accumulation of filth in the suction lines, pressure and temperature rise, which causes overheating. A compressor that has overheated can quickly stop working.