AC Compressor Failure

7 Common Causes of AC Compressor Failure

Chills Air Conditioning AC repairs, Maintenance Leave a Comment

One of the most serious issues that your AC unit can develop is air conditioner compressor problems. If the refrigerant is the lifeblood of your system, then the compressor is its heart. Its job is to compress the refrigerant gas and pump it through the system. AC compressor failure could lead to you having to replace the entire unit, which is not going to be cheap.

The good news is that compressors are built to last, and most causes of failure can be avoided entirely if you remember to have your AC unit serviced regularly (at least once a year).

If your compressor does fail, it will be because of an underlying problem in your system. Fixing or replacing the compressor without fixing this underlying cause will lead to repeated failures and very expensive repair bills. Below are the 7 most common causes of compressor failure.

What Causes AC Compressor Failure?

  • Dirty Coils

During the course of the year, dust, grime, and even mineral scales are building up on your condenser coils. If this buildup becomes too great, your system won’t be able to expel heat and will have to run overtime to try and cool your home. This will put too much strain on the system and ultimately lead to AC compressor failure.

  • Blocked suction lines

The suction line transfers refrigerant gas from the evaporator coils to the condenser coils. If these lines get blocked by dust or dirt, not enough refrigerant will get into the system, causing your compressor to overheat and, eventually, fail.

  • Wrong suction line size

DIY enthusiasts and even inexperienced or unqualified maintenance men have been known to fit suction lines that are too big or small for the system. Either one means that the wrong amount of refrigerant is entering the compressor and can cause it to fail.

  • Refrigerant leak

If the refrigerant is leaking from the system, after a while the level will become so low that the compressor will have to work non-stop to pump enough around the system. Again, this will lead to compressor burnout.

  • Too much refrigerant

Another common mistake is to put too much refrigerant, or the wrong kind (yes, there are different kinds of refrigerant) into the system. This will also lead to catastrophic failure of the compressor.

  • Not enough lubricant (oil)

The compressor is a type of pump and therefore has moving parts. These need to be lubricated with oil. If the oil levels are insufficient, just like in your car, these parts will start to grind against each other and, in the end, break or seize up.

  • Electrical faults

Electric faults can cause all sorts of damage to the system, including a buildup of acids that can cause the compressor to fail. If your compressor has gone, and the technician diagnoses an electrical problem as the cause, you’ll probably need to replace the whole system. Luckily, a good maintenance man will be able to spot and fix any potential electrical problems during regular service to your unit.

As we said, the compressor is the heart of your system. Look after it well, and it will give you years of reliable service, pumping life-giving cool air through your home on demand.

If you neglect it though, problems can develop — unseen and unsuspected — until one day (which will probably be the hottest day of the year) it gives up the ghost and leaves you gasping for air in the heat and humidity as you desperately search for the AC service number. Don’t let this happen to you, contact us today, here at Chills Air Conditioning, to schedule regular maintenance visits. We’ll save you both money and the discomfort of an AC breakdown.

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