5 Common Air Conditioner Compressor Issues

by Editor on August 19, 2013


The nature of air conditioners can be tricky – finicky even. If you don’t perform the proper repairs and maintenance, even the very best heating and cooling systems can break down. When it comes to air conditioners, the compressor unit is by far one of the most important components. If anything happens to the compressor unit, chances are you will be left without a working air conditioner. The main purpose of the compressor unit is to circulate and pressurize the refrigerant, which gives the air conditioner its cooling power. There are a number of issues that can cause the compressor to break down or not work to the best of its efficiency. Here are five common air conditioner compressor issues.

  1. Not enough cooling power. One of the most common issues is when you turn on your air conditioner and there is no cold air blowing out. This is almost always an issue with the compressor. Yet, it is a much easier fix than you might think. Typically, when no cool air is coming out, it means that your compressor needs new gauge ports, because the old ones have worn out. Replacing them is easy – if you know what you are doing.
  2. A short circuit in the motor. Sometimes the compressor motor can short circuit. There are many reasons for this, but when it happens, not only will the compressor not move or circulate cool air, the air conditioning unit won’t work at all. This is because all the electrical functions of the air conditioning unit work together. You can prevent this issue by always making sure there are no frayed wires or leaks, which can happen when the condenser units frost up and then melt. Or it could be because of a flaw in the manufacturing, so you better have your warranty on hand.
  3. A sputtering compressor. Sometimes when you turn on an air conditioner, the compressor will take a while to start up and will often sputter – much like an old car trying to start. A sputtering compressor is usually the first sign of many problems. It could be that the compressor unit is dying, or there could be an electrical issue, which makes it difficult to communicate with the main circuit. If this is the case, your best option is to call the professionals.
  4. Too much cooling power. If the air conditioner is releasing too much cool air, it could be that your compressor unit is on the fritz, or that you don’t have enough refrigerant for the compressor to circulate. You can first test your refrigerant levels and if you are low, just add more. If you don’t know what you are doing, it might be wise to call a specialist. If it isn’t the refrigerant, you might have a more serious problem on your hands.
  5. Compressor motor has failed. There are a number of reasons why a compressor motor will fail, but mostly it has to do with the age of the unit. If your air conditioning unit is over ten years old, chances are you don’t need to simply replace the compressor motor; you need a whole new unit.
photo by: flatheadjake

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