What Causes AC Compressor Failure?

The heart is what circulates blood in the human body. Therefore, it’s what keeps the body running.  Similarly, the compressor is the ‘heart’ of your AC unit. And, the unit cannot operate without this essential element.

It is therefore essential for the compressor to function correctly. It will help you maneuver through summer days by keeping your home cool.

However, like any other component in your AC unit, the compressor is not immune to breakdowns. The good thing is, repairs are also possible to get the system back up and running.

But, what causes AC compressor failure? There are numerous causes of AC compressor failure, as we shall find out in this article.

Nonetheless, let us first learn what the compressor entails and their value to your AC.

 AC Compressor Overview

As earlier mentioned, the compressor is like a heart because it compresses the refrigerant gas and pumps it into the AC system. During this exercise, humidity and heat are extracted from the air, causing a relaxed atmosphere.

Another reason why an AC compressor is comparable to the heart is its lifespan of 10-15 years. If it is not maintained correctly, it does not get to this time – just as the heart needs proper care.

Now that we understand what a compressor entails, let us highlight some of the leading causes of AC compressor failure;

What Causes AC Compressor Failure? Top Issues

1. Dirty Coil

From time to time, dirt and dust usually amass on the condenser coil of your AC unit. These particles do not allow efficient discharge of heat from your unit. This leads to overheating of your AC, which will, in turn, affects your compressor in its functionality.

Be on the lookout whenever your compressor operates longer than usual or continuously. Also, ensure that you clean your coils regularly to resolve this.

2. Obstruction in Sanction Lines

Typically, your AC should be able to maintain a relaxed atmosphere in your home. Your sanction lines could either be damaged or blocked if it doesn’t. In this case, your AC will still be in motion meaning there is a likelihood for your compressor to be damaged.

To save your unit’s heart (compressor), turn off your AC if you feel like the cooling is not as effective as it should be.

3. Electrical Problems

Another cause of AC compressor failure is electrical malfunctions. This can be due to the accumulation of acids in your AC which damages the wiring, interfering with your compressor’s functionality.

If your AC suddenly shuts down, it means there is a problem with your wiring. Reach out to a technician to resolve this.

4. Contaminants

Any contaminant is a threat to your compressor. Be it moisture, dust, grime, debris, dirt, or air. Others like acid, soot, pests, and bird droppings are equally a threat to your compressor too. All these things cause failure to your AC compressor.

Sadly, this is unpreventable as one part of your AC unit is usually located outside your house. Therefore, it is inevitable not to expose it to the atmosphere.

However, you can clean the location around your external unit. Make it a routine, and you will have somehow solved have your contaminant problem.

5. Refrigerant Leaks

Low refrigerant levels are a headache to your compressor. They force it to work extra than average to maintain cool temperatures for your home.

Ordinarily, your compressor should not be overworked. If it does, it will break down prematurely.

6. Inadequate Oil Lubricant

Sufficient oil lubricant is a requirement for your AC to function correctly. The vice versa means trouble for your AC.

In general, insufficient oil lubricant will cause failure to your compressor. To solve this, regularly add oil lubricant to your compressor motor.

Ensure that you follow the precautions provided on your AC’s manual when adding the lubricant. If it proves difficult for you, contact a professional to assist you.

7. Wrong Size of Refrigerant Line

Another cause of AC compressor failure is the incorrect size of sanction lines. If it is microscale or larger than the usual length, your compressor will break down.

Installing the wrong size might happen if you hire an unqualified technician to replace the line. Or if you did it yourself without proper skills.

Protect your compressor by consulting an experienced HVAC technician.

8. Unit Vibrating when Starting Up

There are instances when your compressor shakes or vibrates when turned on. It is known as a hard start. Hard starting is when your unit has a hard time turning on, which occurs before it fails.

Use a certified HVAC professional to help you with the issue as it might lead to the compressor’s failure.

9. Less Airflow

The compressor’s main task is to generate cold air. The amount of airflow from your vent should always be constant.

If it is less, then your compressor is weak. If the airflow gets diminished, do not hesitate to call a technician as soon as possible.

Conduct Preventive Maintenance to Protect your Compressor

 After learning what causes AC compressor failure, it’s time to figure out how to prevent it.

One way to do this is to carry out regular preventive maintenance. Most of these issues in the compressor are avoidable. And, a frequently serviced and well-maintained compressor should go for many years without malfunctioning.

The following is a checklist of regular preventive assignments that you should undertake on your HVAC compressor. 

  • Startup inspection; ensure that your AC startup is without any hesitations. It should not produce any cracking or whizzing sounds.
  • Electrical inspection; apply a voltage tester when switching on your unit. Also, use currency measurement equipment to examine its voltage.
  • Visual inspection; certify that your compressor has no burned or discolored wires or leakages, and doesn’t produce whizzing sounds or vibrations.

Generally, the compressor should be well-taken care of. Ensure that you look out for all the causes of AC compressor failure and reach out for help to solve them. A relaxing environment will be certain if you properly maintain your compressor, especially during hot days.

 Remember that the compressor is among the most crucial component in your AC unit; hence you should give it the utmost attention. No compressor, no AC!

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