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What is an Air Conditioner (AC) Compressor? Issues & How to Fix

What is an Air Conditioner (AC) Compressor? Issues & How to Fix

A compressor, also known as the “heart” of your air conditioner is a vital and often expensive component of your air cooling cycle. This device keeps your home cool and comfortable during the warm weather season by converting power into energy and circulating the refrigerant necessary for the heat exchange process. Simply put, without a working air conditioner (AC) compressor, you don’t have cold air. 

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How an Air Conditioner Compressor Works

The air conditioner compressor is situated within the outdoor unit. This compressor’s job consists of circulating the refrigerant needed during the heat exchange process through the coils. Think of this as the energy source for the air conditioning system. The electricity that runs through the home AC compressor powers the air conditioner to absorb the heat from your home to formulate cool air and push it back into your house. 

The cooling process of the air conditioning compressor starts with the motor. The motor powers the compressor with a cylinder and piston. From there, the home AC compressor raises the temperature and pressure of the vapor refrigerant that leaves the evaporator coil. The compressor must increase the temperature of the refrigerant in order to move the heat from inside the home to the condenser. The condenser will then cool down the heat, “condensing” incoming refrigerant vapor into liquid. The air conditioner compressor, in turn, raises the pressure of the refrigerant to move to the indoor unit. The process then repeats, again and again, creating a constant exchange of heat.   

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What is an Air Conditioner Compressor? Issues & How to FixCommon Causes of Air Conditioner Compressor Failure

Many issues can cause your home air conditioner compressor to fail. Most of these are not expensive fixes—sometimes a system issue can be as simple as a clogged air filter hindering the airflow. However, if you’re experiencing compressor failure, this is a much more costly repair and may require you to purchase a new air conditioner unit. 

Fortunately, most types of air conditioning compressor failures can be prevented if the problem is addressed early on. To maintain the condition of your compressor, scheduling routine air conditioner maintenance can detect and resolve any occurrences that may result in a bigger issue. Typically, most home air conditioner compressor failures come from unqualified technicians. This is why you should contact a certified technician to receive exceptional air conditioning maintenance. Let’s take a look at the common causes of air conditioner compressor failure. 

Electrical Issues

Perhaps one of the most costly repairs, electrical issues can cause permanent damage to your home AC compressor along with other parts of your unit. When an electrical error occurs, this builds up acids that are detrimental to your system. However, scheduling routine air conditioning tune-ups can prevent electrical problems. A qualified technician is able to inspect your system for acids and repair damaged fuses, wiring, and more that may wreak havoc on your compressor. 

What is an Air Conditioner Compressor? Issues & How to FixImproperly Sized Suction Lines

This mishap is largely due to the performance of an unqualified technician. A suction line that is too small or too large can cause your air conditioning compressor to break down, resulting in costly repairs. When contacting an air conditioning professional, make sure you receive a well-qualified technician to get the job done right, every time. 

Filling the Air Conditioner With too Much Refrigerant

Similar to installing an improperly sized suction pipe, it is not uncommon for unqualified HVAC technicians to use the wrong type of refrigerant for your system. We do not recommend performing an air conditioning repair or tune-up project without a licensed professional. A common mistake that is often overlooked by unqualified contractors or homeowners is filling the air conditioner with too much refrigerant. This type of issue will cause damage to your air conditioning compressor.

Refrigerant Leaks

Over time, your unit’s refrigerant lines may develop cracks and holes, which causes the refrigerant to leak from your air conditioner. As your refrigerant levels dwindle down, the home AC compressor must work harder to push refrigerant through the system, eventually causing the system to fail. 

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What is an Air Conditioner Compressor? Issues & How to FixBlocked Suction Lines

One of the first signs of blocked or damaged suction lines is that your unit will stop cooling to the best of its ability. If the issue is not detected early on, this may result in increased pressure and temperature, causing your air conditioning (AC) compressor to overheat and fail. 

Filthy Coils

This occurs when residue, grime, and minerals develop on the condenser coil. In return, the air conditioner can’t eject enough heat from the unit, which forces it to run constantly throughout the day to cool your space. This increased pressure and temperature make the compressor overheat and eventually fail.

Dirt & Debris From the Outdoor Air

Sometimes, compressor damage boils down to numerous contaminants from the outdoors. Moisture, air, dirt, leaves, debris, acids, bird droppings—all of these elements can get into the air conditioning unit and break down the compressor. 

Issues With Oil Lubricant

Lubricant levels work in the same way as refrigerants. Too much or not enough oil lubricant can cause your system to function incorrectly, which results in air conditioning compressor damage. Schedule routine maintenance with a professional technician for your air conditioner to ensure that lubricant levels are always where it needs to be. 

Benefits of a New Air Conditioning UnitAir Conditioning Repair, Tune-Up, & Installation Services

The only way to prevent issues with your home AC compressor is to schedule continuous tune-ups with a licensed HVAC contractor. WM Henderson provides dependable and efficient air conditioning tune-up, replacement, and repair services to homes in areas of Pennsylvania such as Havertown, Broomall, Wayne, Drexel Hill, and Ardmore. 

Our team also provides other HVAC services including furnace repair, heat pump installation, and boiler replacement. Give our team a call by phone at (484) 206-8594 or book an appointment online to receive emergency support for your HVAC system. Our team of licensed plumbers will make sure your air conditioning system stays in pristine condition. 

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