Returning home to a malfunctioning AC on a hot and humid summer afternoon can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. One of the most common causes of AC failure is a faulty compressor.
The compressor is one of the most important parts of an AC. Your AC compressor plays a crucial role in the cooling process, and ensures that your unit functions properly.
Where is the Compressor Located?
An AC compressor is located in the outdoor unit, at the rear or on the side of the home. Some other important parts within the outdoor unit are the condenser, fan, and condenser coil. The outdoor and indoor units of an AC are connected through a copper refrigerant. The outdoor and indoor units work together to absorb and cool hot air.
How Does the Compressor Work?
To understand how the compressor works, you must first know the cooling process for a split-system central air conditioner. Contrary to popular belief, an AC does not cool hot air, it just removes the heat from it.
Hot air is moved over the evaporator coil. The unit circulates the conditioned air throughout the home. A liquid refrigerant keeps the evaporator coil cold. The refrigerant performs the vital task of absorbing hot air and changing it to gas, which is transported to the condenser coil. Here the gas again becomes liquid. The cycle continues.
You may ask how does the compressor fit into the picture? The compressor is the heart of an air conditioning unit. It is responsible for moving the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser coils. The process changes the refrigerant to gas or liquid, as required. The compressor pumps the refrigerant through the system playing a vital role in its functioning.
Common Causes of AC Compressor Failure
An AC compressor is usually very reliable. With proper maintenance, it can last 10-15 years. Here are some common problems that can cause AC compressor failure.
- Dirty Coils: If dust, grime, and mineral scales have built up on your AC’s condenser coil, the unit will be unable to expel enough heat and will go into overdrive to cool your home. The resultant stress can cause the compressor to overheat.
- Low Refrigerant: Your AC’s refrigerant line can develop holes or cracks over time. The unit will continuously leak refrigerant through these holes. When the refrigerant drops to critical levels, the compressor is forced to work harder to cool your spaces. The resultant strain will cause your compressor to stop working.
- Too Much Refrigerant: There is a reason you must trust a professional for air conditioning installation in Walnut Creek. A lesser qualified person may add too much refrigerant. The excess refrigerant can flood your AC compressor, damaging vital mechanical components.
- Blocked Suction Lines: Is your AC not cooling properly? There is a probability that the refrigerant lines are blocked or damaged. If you do not move swiftly to address the problem, the increased pressure and temperature can cause your compressor to overheat and eventually fail.
- Electrical Issues: An electrical problem can result in the acid build-up. Acid can damage your AC’s compressor and other parts. To steer clear of this issue, have your system checked by your technician regularly. An experienced technician will inspect and repair faulty wiring, contactors, and fuses before they cause any major damage.
- Inadequate Oil Lubricant: An AC compressor endures a lot of stress. It requires regular lubrication to function properly. If there is not enough oil in your system, friction between different parts of the compressor will increase. The resultant stress will cause compressor failure.
Symptoms of a Failing AC Compressor
Some common signs of a bad AC compressor are:
- Weird noises (rumbling, popping, growling, screeching, clicking or clattering) from the unit
- The compressor does not turn on
- Leaks around your air conditioning unit
- Circuit breaker tripping
- AC does not cool properly
- A sudden and inexplicable rise in your energy bills
- Improper/reduced airflow
- The unit does not release enough hot air outside
Should You Repair or Replace a Faulty Compressor?
Your AC’s compressor is one of its most expensive parts. If your AC compressor is blowing hot air, stop yourself from jumping to conclusions. Instead of acting impulsively, look before you leap.
Consult your technician. When deciding whether to repair or replace, the professional will consider different factors such as your unit’s age, repair and replacement costs, and whether your compressor broke down a lot over the years. Let us examine these factors in detail.
- Age: An average compressor is built to last 10-15 years. If your compressor is nearing the end of its service life, replacing it makes more sense. If your AC is on its last leg, consider replacing the entire unit, instead of just the compressor.
- Cost: In some cases, repairing a faulty compressor may be cheaper than replacing it, whereas in other cases, compressor replacement is a better option. The costs will depend on your unique situation.
- The Number of Times Your Compressor Has Broken Down Over the Years: If you think you can add years to the lifespan of an old compressor that breaks down frequently, you are wrong, as it will need frequent repairs, and you may end up spending more money than on replacement.
Is your AC not cooling properly? Connolly Heating and Air Conditioning can help. We have been serving families in our service areas for almost three decades now. Our technicians go above and beyond to keep customers happy. To discuss your air conditioning installation project in Walnut Creek, call 925-288-1408.