If you’re experiencing issues with your air conditioner, it could be caused by any number of things. Of course, once you’ve ruled out a faulty thermostat, blocked ducts or a clogged filter, the next thing to check is the unit itself. It could be the compressor going bad, but how do you know? There are four signs that can alert you to issues with your home air conditioner compressor.
What Is an AC Compressor?
The ac compressor is a major component in your condensing unit, and it is where most of the magic happens. It’s usually located on a concrete pad outside your home and appears as a large fan surrounded by metal “fins”. The purpose of this unit is to put the refrigerant that is cooling your home under a great deal of pressure to create a very hot vapor that is suitable for exchanging heat. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the hot vapor is an integral part of cooling your home.
Signs of Home AC Compressor Failure
There are a few warning signals that your compressor may be about to give out. These include:
- Your home isn’t staying cool. This is one of the most obvious warning signs, but keep in mind that there are several things that can cause your home to be warmer than it should. Compressor failure is only one of them.
- The unit struggles to kick on. If you go outside and observe the unit as it is kicking on, does it shudder or shake and act as if it is struggling to start? Your HVAC service technician may refer to this as a “hard start” and it is a surefire sign that your unit is in need of ac service.
- Blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. If it seems that your air conditioner has started to trip circuit breakers or blow fuses here and there, it could be because your compressor is not working properly. Circuit breakers trip and fuses blow when there is a ground fault, when the circuit is overloaded and when there’s a short circuit, so this is a good indicator that something is wrong.
- Strange noises. Even if everything else seems up to par, odd sounds coming from the compressor are definitely indicative of an issue. Keep in mind that a condensing unit as a whole is quite loud, and this is especially true if it is an older unit. However, if it seems to be getting louder or if it begins to make grinding, whining, or very loud humming sounds, you should contact your HVAC service technician.
Repair or Replacement?
If your air conditioning company determines that there is indeed an issue with your compressor, you’ll be faced with a decision: should you repair it or simply replace it? If your unit is still under warranty, the manufacturer will likely make the call. However, if it isn’t, you’ll need to consider the cost of repair versus the cost of replacement. If it will cost you nearly as much to repair the unit as it will to replace it, then a replacement simply makes more sense. In this case, the cost varies based upon where you live, the labor involved, the size of the unit, the technology it uses, and the individual manufacturer. On average, though, expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for a replacement based upon these factors.
If you suspect that your compressor is failing, or if your central air conditioner is no longer running as efficiently as it once did, there are some things you can do on your own such as changing the filter, ensuring that your ducts aren’t blocked, and even testing your thermostat. However, for larger jobs such as compressor replacement, it is best to contact your service technician as soon as you recognize a problem. Remember that when one component is not working as it should, it can have a significant impact on the others and cause them to fail, as well. Prompt service can save you money and get you back into your comfort zone.
Call the experts at Max Air Air Conditioning & Heating to schedule a service call to inspect your ac unit. We provide a warranty on everything we do, even repair services have a one year warranty. Call 817-459-4100 / 972-233-1637 or request service online.
Photo credit: Steve A Johnson