Your AC compressor, the unit that sits outside the building, is the backbone of your cooling system. It supplies cold refrigerant so that the evaporator coil can absorb heat and moisture from inside the building. It then releases all of the heat back outside the building.
Once the heat is released, the unit compresses the refrigerant from a gas back into a liquid. This lowers the refrigerant temperature so that it can absorb more heat from inside. Any issues with the compressor can make it so that your AC system is unable to properly cool your home. Here are some of the most common compressor problems you may experience.
Low Refrigerant Level
An air conditioning system is a closed loop. The refrigerant is constantly flowing inside to the evaporator coil and then back out to the compressor. The only reason the refrigerant level would be low is if the system is leaking.
Over time, vibration inside the AC unit can wear tiny holes in the evaporator or condenser coils. The refrigerant lines are also susceptible to leakage. Formicary corrosion in the lines is caused by chemical reactions between the copper and certain pollutants in the air.
If the system is leaking, it will eventually not have enough refrigerant left to maintain proper pressure. As the pressure drops, the temperature inside the system also drops. This can lead to the coils or refrigerant lines freezing. Low pressure could also cause the compressor to stop working. Many compressor units have a fail-safe that prevents the compressor from turning on if the pressure is too low.
Compressor Fins Clogged
The sides of the compressor unit are made up of fins. This looks like a grate surrounding the compressor fan and motor. Over time, the fins can become clogged with leaves and other debris. When this happens, it makes it impossible for the compressor to properly release the hot air. As with a refrigerant leak, this can cause the refrigerant to get too cold and allow condensation on the coils to freeze.
Compressor Motor Overheating
The compressor motor can overheat for a number of different reasons. Most commonly, this occurs because the system is having to work too hard and run for too long. This can happen due to insufficient airflow in the system, like when there isn’t sufficient space around the unit. Sometimes, the compressor can overheat because it is exposed to too much direct sunlight.
Short Cycling Due to Oversized Compressor
Compressors can also suffer from an issue known as short cycling. That is when the compressor constantly turns on and off without completing a full cycle. The unit usually gets stuck in startup mode and is unable to switch over to the normal cooling cycle. Most commonly, this issue occurs because the compressor unit is too big for the size of the building. The only effective solution is to replace the unit with one that is appropriately sized for the building.
AC compressors can also suffer from a variety of electrical issues. These can be related to either your electrical system or the compressor itself. If the compressor isn’t wired correctly, it can cause it to constantly trip the circuit breaker, shutting off power. The vibration inside the compressor can also cause the wires or connections to become loose or damaged. The wires and connections can also corrode due to age. All of these problems can lead to the compressor not turning on or frequently turning on and off.
Expert AC Repairs and Maintenance
The best way to avoid most compressor issues is to have your cooling system professionally inspected and maintained every year. Even with regular maintenance, it is likely that you will experience more issues the older your compressor is. It is recommended to start thinking about replacing your compressor if it is more than 15 years old.
If you need any AC repair, maintenance, or installation services, Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. is ready to help. We work on all brands and types of air conditioners as well as heating systems. We have been proudly serving customers in Downers Grove and the surrounding areas for more than 40 years. We want to ensure that your home stays cool and comfortable all summer long. No matter what type of AC service you need, contact us today, and let our expert HVAC technicians help.