What is an AC Compressor?
Located in the outdoor portion of an air conditioning unit, a compressor is one of its most integral parts -- and one of the most expensive to fix. The purpose of an air conditioning compressor is to circulate the refrigerant needed for heat exchange through the coils of the indoor and outdoor air conditioning unit. It also applies the energy to the refrigerant.
Clues That Your AC Compressor is Failing
- No cool air inside.
This is one of the first signs that your compressor may be having trouble. A failing compressor will not be able to properly regulate the refrigerant flow in the AC system, causing the temperature to be higher than normal.
- Loud noises and “hard” starts.
If your outdoor condenser unit shakes, shutters and makes loud noises when switched on, it may be another sign that your compressor has gone kaput.
- Tripped circuit breaker.
When your compressor starts to fail, it will start overworking itself, often causing your circuit breaker to trip and cut off power to the unit. If it is happening quite frequently, there’s a good chance a compressor failure is to blame.
- The compressor clutch is not moving.
The clutch on a compressor is what allows the pulley to engage and disengage from engine power, so the compressor is only turning when it needs to be. If it stops working, the compressor can’t receive power and therefore can’t function.
How to Prevent AC Compressor Failure
An AC compressor’s expected lifespan is 10 to 15 years. Up to 80 percent of AC compressor failures before its lifespan is over are preventable if the problems leading to the failure are fixed in a timely manner. Getting regular, preventative AC maintenance performed on your unit can help detect and eliminate problems as soon as they start so that you can get the full life out of your unit.
Some common issues include:
- Dirty coils
- Blocked suction lines
- Low refrigerant charge
- Incorrect suction line size
- Too much refrigerant
- Electrical problems
- Contaminants in the system
- Inadequate oil lubricant
If you take good care of your compressor, it will take good care of you. Get your unit serviced at least twice a year by a reputable AC service company with experienced, licensed technicians.
How Do I Fix It?
If you are confident in doing it yourself, here are some steps to take to solve the problem.
(Disclaimer: we take no responsibility for the information provided below, and highly recommend calling a professional.)
Step 1: Be sure to remove all the refrigerant before removing the compressor.
Step 2: Next remove the receiver drier, orifice tube and the expansion valve.
Step 3: Flush all foreign materials from the AC system.
Step 4: Then install the new compressor, receiver drier and orifice tube.
If you’re not entirely confident in your AC repair abilities, consider having it diagnosed by a professional technician, such as Easy AC. If necessary, they will be able to replace the part for you as well.