If refrigerant is the lifeblood of your air conditioner, the compressor is its heart. This is the costly, outdoor component of the cooling system in your Hooksett, New Hampshire home, and without it, you wouldn't have cooled air. It's what drives the heat exchange process. When refrigerant returns to the compressor as a gas, this component compresses or pressurizes it to keep it moving. Thus, if the AC compressor fails, your air conditioner may continue to run, but your living environment will remain hot and stuffy. Knowing the issues that compressors are prone to developing can be key for knowing when to seek professional help. What follows here is a discussion of nine AC compressor problems that often rear their heads.
Overheating can cause an AC compressor to fail outright, and there are many reasons why a compressor might overheat. If your compressor is installed in a location that gets lots of natural light but provides limited ventilation, it's unlikely to last long without a continuous strategy for mitigating solar heat. Compressors can also overheat as a result of insufficient maintenance. Dirty, dusty coils, insufficient insulation, and refrigerant leaks that are left unchecked can all cause overheating. Having your air conditioner inspected and tuned up before the hot season hits allow HVAC technicians to spot and correct these and other issues before they cause your compressor to overheat.
2. There’s Too Much Refrigerant in Your Air Conditioner
Having insufficient refrigerant in your air conditioner is explainable. Worn parts and loose connections allow this vital fluid to seep out. But how do air conditioners get too much refrigerant? If you've ever had a refrigerant leak before and called an HVAC technician in to fix it, it may be that more refrigerant than necessary was added during this service. In this case, it's definitely possible to get too much of a good thing. In fact, too much refrigerant can actually wreck your AC compressor. Refrigerant refills should always be done to manufacturer specifications. When refrigerant levels are too high, pressure builds within the system and the compressor breaks down. If you believe that this is what happened with your compressor, you may be able to hold the company that performed your last service accountable.
3. Insufficient Lubrication
Equipment with moving parts always needs lubrication. Without it, wear is expedited and systems overheat. Low levels of oil increase the amount of friction that your compressor's parts are subjected to. If you aren't having your air conditioner inspected and tuned up annually, you're bound to run into troubles in this area. Lubricant is naturally lost over time, and oils that are subject to high heat gradually lose their efficiency. Lubricant loss can also happen as the result of loose pipe connections or a leaky condenser or evaporator. During tune-ups, lubricant levels are always checked and replenished as needed.
4. The Refrigerant Suction Lines Are Damaged or Blocked
The refrigerant suction lines in your air conditioner can get blocked and clogged and cause compressor damage. These components may crack or develop tiny holes as the result of ongoing wear or excess strain. When this happens, the compressor has to work overtime to keep refrigerant moving. If blockages are severe, the compressor may even overheat and burn out. Other problems at the suction lines can cause compressor failure as well. For instance, if these lines aren't the proper size, your compressor will suffer. Improper suction line sizing means extra work for the compressor and a shorter lifespan overall. Much like having too much refrigerant in your air conditioner, this is an issue that's frequently the result of hiring an unskilled HVAC technician.i
5. The Outdoor unit Is blocked Off or Filled With Debris
Given its outdoor location, the compressor is subject to the ravages of the elements. These components are designed to have a fair amount of resistance to moisture, heat, and dust, but they require more maintenance than indoor units do. When dirt, dust, pollen, and other particulates enter this unit, they can create the conditions for overheating. Small pebbles and other hard objects can rattle around in the compressor and cause damage as well. Even having too much air get into this unit can be problematic. Excess air can cause lubricant to carbonize on the compressor's discharge valve. Over time, this can result in a buildup of residue that causes a valve leak. Together, all of these things set the stage for overheating and compressor failure.
6. The Evaporator’s Motor Is Displaced
All of the parts of your air conditioner are designed to work seamlessly together. When one part is damaged or displaced, nothing else works as it should. If the evaporator motor in your AC unit is displaced, the refrigerant that your compressor sends out will be pushed right back into it. More importantly, the flow of refrigerant and the resulting heat transfer process suffer. A displaced evaporator motor can additionally force the compressor's lubricant out of place so that moving parts are subjected to increased heat and friction. This leads to efficiency losses and will eventually cause your compressor to break down entirely.
7. The Condenser Coils Are Blocked
Just as problems with your air conditioner's evaporator motor can affect its compressor, issues at its condenser coils can be harmful as well. If these coils are coated in grime, they won't be able to release heat effectively. This puts a lot of strain on the compressor and forces it to overwork. If you continue using your air conditioner when its condenser coils are retaining heat, the compressor will overheat too. When this simple maintenance issue is neglected, it can burn your AC compressor out.
8. Electrical problems
Damaged fuses, contacts, and wires can lead to electrical failure. Power surges consistently rank among the most common causes of electrical issues in AC systems. The best way to protect your home cooling equipment against these is by having a whole-house surge protector installed. You can also turn your air conditioner off at the start of heavy storms when there's a high likelihood of power supply interruptions. Other problems that can cause electrical failure are the result of insufficient maintenance. Minor electrical problems that are left unchecked can cause widespread issues with oxidation and acid. During annual tune-ups, HVAC companies look for buildups of acid so that they can identify and correct developing electrical problems early-on.
9. Insufficiente Refrigerante
Low levels of refrigerant can cause an air conditioner's compressor to collapse. When refrigerant is low, pressure inside a compressor decreases. As a result, it has to work harder to force refrigerant through the system. Worse still, refrigerant loss is usually a progressive problem. With a slow but consistent leak, you may not know that there's an issue at all, even as your compressor is being subjected to increasing strain.
How to Prevent These and Other Problems
The most likely causes for problems at an air conditioner's compressor are shoddy workmanship and insufficient maintenance. You can avoid shoddy workmanship by only hiring licensed, reputable providers. When it comes to AC maintenance, always make sure to schedule annual tune-up and inspection services before the hot season arrives. These visits give HVAC technicians the chance to catch and resolve issues before they've caused ser
ious damage. At Proactive Comfort, we offer fast, friendly HVAC maintenance services for keeping AC compressors in good working order. In addition, we perform a complete rang e of heating and cooling equipment installation, maintenance, and repair. We also provide water heater and sump pump installation, water filtration, drain cleaning, and plumbing repair. If you need help caring for the air conditioner in your Hooksett, NH home, call us today.