compressor failure

6 Common Causes of AC Compressor Failure

A faulty compressor is the worst thing that can happen to your air conditioner. It’s the heart of the system. A compressor is responsible for moving coolant throughout the AC.

If it fails, the AC cannot do its job and cool the air. Compressors are very expensive to replace and sometimes the only choice is to buy a whole new AC unit.

Although compressors typically last about a decade, there are other problems with an AC that can shorten a compressor’s lifespan.

Continue reading to learn 6 common causes of compressor failure.

1. Low Coolant Levels

Your air conditioner will have reduced refrigerant levels if there’s a leak from a hole or crack in the unit. This low level of coolant puts a strain on the AC compressor.

The compressor has to work overtime to compress and pump what little fluid is left. This strain will cause the compressor to break down and the system will fail.

2. Too Much Coolant

Always be sure you have a qualified HVAC technician to perform maintenance on your AC unit. Someone who doesn’t have the proper qualifications or knowledge may add too much refrigerant to your AC.

Overfilling the system will lead to extra coolant flooding inside the compressor. This brings down the temperatures of the refrigerant.

Because there is so much coolant, it takes longer for it to travel to the evaporator and it stays in the compressor for longer. As it sits in the compressor it gets colder. Your AC can blow out warm air from this.

An excess of refrigerant can also ruin the compressor’s parts.

3. Not Enough Lubricant

The components of a compressor need lubricant or oil to move sufficiently. If there isn’t enough oil, the parts will fail to pump coolant through the AC unit properly.

As the components continue to work roughly against one another, sooner or later they’ll break or stop moving entirely.

4. Incorrect Refrigerant Line Size

There are various problems that can arise from having the wrong refrigerant line size. First of all, a line that’s too small or large can cause coolant to leak as it passes through the line. We already know that a coolant leak can damage the compressor.

The size of liquid and suction lines serve three functions: coolant charge, pressure, and velocity. Liquid lines that are too small will cause significant pressure drop, but large liquid lines contain too much extra refrigerant.

Poorly sized suction lines will also damage the compressor. These lines push gas refrigerant from the evaporator coil to the condenser coil.

They must be small enough to move the oil at high speeds so it goes back to the compressor. They have to be large enough to reduce pressure drop otherwise they’ll lose oil.

5. Blocked Refrigerant Line

People who don’t regularly maintain their AC systems can experience a blocked refrigerant line. Dust and dirt from the air in your home will build up in your unit if you don’t have the lines cleaned.

This will prevent coolant from circulating inside the AC and the air coming from the system will be warmer. The compressor will strain from overworking, pressure will build, and the unit will overheat.

If nothing is done, the compressor will shut down. Don’t ignore an AC that pushes out warm air. Get it repaired right away.

6. Electrical Issues

Another reason to follow regular AC maintenance is to avoid electrical problems. An electrical fault can create acid buildup that damages the compressor and other AC components.

An important piece related to the compressor is the capacitor. Capacitors send electricity to the system’s motor to make it run.

When the capacitor struggles to hold a charge, it’s difficult for the unit to start and stay on. This can damage the compressor’s motor and affect how well the compressor performs.

A wave of high voltage will make the motor overheat and burn out.

Avoid AC Compressor Failure

The easiest way to keep your AC unit up and running is to schedule regular maintenance. An HVAC technician will check for any problems with your compressor, refrigerant lines, capacitor, and other AC parts.

Don’t wait to get your AC checked out only when you think there’s an issue. You’ll avoid costly repairs and even a replacement with regular maintenance.

Use this list of common causes to prevent compressor failure.

Feel free to contact us about AC maintenance or installation by filling out the form or giving us a call at 405-501-3871.

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