AC Compressor Failure: Causes & Troubleshooting Tips

By Fix4U Team
Air Conditioners, Appliances

Of all the components in your air conditioning system, few are as essential as the AC compressor. This key device is responsible for pressurizing and circulating the refrigerant that allows heat removal.

So when an AC compressor fails, so does your cooling comfort. Understanding common problems that lead to compressor failure allows quicker diagnosis when issues arise. This AC troubleshooting guide from Fix4U Repairs will cover compressor failure causes and tips for identifying a bad compressor.

How Does An AC Compressor Work?

The AC compressor sits outside as part of the condenser coil unit. It is powered by the external fan motor. The compressor:

  • Draws in low pressure refrigerant gas from evaporator coils.
  • Compresses it into a high pressure, high temperature gas using pistons.
  • Pushes refrigerant through the condenser coils where it cools back into a liquid.
  • Circulates refrigerant through the system to remove heat from your home.

Proper compressor operation is key to maintaining the refrigerant pressure and temperatures needed for cooling.

What Causes AC Compressor Failure?

Fix4U Repairs' Technicians Fixing Ac Compressor Failure Problem In Gta

Compressor failure can occur due to:

  • Low Refrigerant: Running too low on refrigerant can overwork and damage the compressor. Slow leaks and inadequate recharging after work is performed often causes low refrigerant.
  • Lack of Lubrication: Insufficient oil in the compressor leads to increased friction and overheating. Oil leaks out over time.
  • Power Surges: Power surges from storms or unstable electrical grids can blow internal fuses and melt compressor windings.
  • Burned Out Motor: Continual motor overheating from low refrigerant levels or rapid cycling can burn out the motor windings.
  • Damaged Valves: Faulty discharge valves prevent proper refrigerant circulation. Piston damage also leads to valve issues.
  • Contaminated System: Sludge, acid, or debris in the AC system creates resistance that strains the compressor.
  • Improper Use: Frequent improper starts in cold weather and rapid on/off cycling overwhelms the compressor.
  • Wear & Tear: After years of summer use, components like rings, bearings, and seals wear out and fail.

Signs of AC Compressor Failure

Watch for these warning signs that your AC compressor is failing:

  • Unusual noises – screeching, grinding, clanking
  • Higher energy bills from longer run times
  • AC not cooling even when refrigerant is adequate
  • Refrigerant leaks as compressor seals wear out
  • Burning smells from overheating windings
  • Rapid on-off compressor cycling
  • Increased humidity in the home
  • Frost or ice build up on refrigerant lines
  • High suction and low discharge system pressures

Troubleshooting Bad AC Compressors

Start diagnosis of a potentially bad compressor with these steps:

  • Document any unusual noises from the AC condenser.
  • Inspect refrigerant pressures using gauges to check for low or high readings.
  • Test capacitor with a multi-meter for proper microfarads. Replace if weak.
  • Check amp draw on the compressor wires with a clamp meter. High amps indicate issues.
  • Inspect contactor contacts for pitting, welds, and proper closure.
  • Ensure refrigerant charge is adequate. Add refrigerant if pressure gauges or line temperatures indicate undercharge.

Compressor issues? Call Now To Fix Your AC!

Replacing a Failed AC Compressor

Since the AC compressor is the heart of the system, repairs are complex and should be left to qualified HVAC pros when replacement is required. The general process includes:

  1. Recovering all refrigerant – Required to prevent release of environment-damaging CFCs
  2. Removing failed compressor and any contaminated components like filter drier
  3. Installing new compressor with properly matched refrigerant pipes
  4. Evacuating air from system using vacuum pump
  5. Recharging system with fresh refrigerant
  6. Testing for refrigerant leaks
  7. Verifying system operating pressures and airflow temperatures

Trust the cooling experts at Fix4U Repairs for superior diagnosis and replacement of any failed air conditioner compressor. Our skilled techs have the tools and expertise to get your AC running cool and quiet again. Call (647) 363-5205!

Preventing Future Compressor Failure

Routine maintenance greatly reduces compressor failure risks:

  • Arrange for yearly AC maintenance to check refrigerant levels & system condition
  • Replace air filters monthly to maintain proper airflow
  • Keep outdoor AC unit clear of debris, leaves, weeds
  • Use surge protectors to avoid electrical damage from storms
  • Avoid thermostat setbacks greater than 5 degrees F in summer

Don’t leave comfort to chance – it only takes an annual AC system tune-up to protect against a compressor failure. The cooler weather won’t last forever so call the experts at Fix4U Repairs today to schedule service!

(647) 363-5205

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