6 Signs That Your AC Compressor is Faulty

The compressor is the core of your AC unit. If it develops issues or breaks down, you will start experiencing some problems with your home’s cooling. You might have to spend a lot of money to get it fixed, and in some cases, you might end up replacing the entire unit.

If you hear loud noises or normal cabin temperature coming from your AC compressor, it’s time to get it inspected by an air conditioner repair tech. When noticing something strange, be sure to call for professional help as soon as possible.
New installed AC compressor for a Phoenix home

How AC Systems Work

Before we look at common compressor issues, it’s important to understand what the compressor does. The purpose of the compressor is to condense the refrigerant such that it’s circulated to the evaporator coils found inside the indoor unit of your home’s AC system. The coolant is then passed on to the evaporator coils, making them very cold. The fan located in the indoor unit blows warm air from the indoors over the coils and cools the air. This newly cooled air is then circulated into your home, while the warmed refrigerant is taken to the outdoor condensing unit, and the heat is expelled into the outside air.

The compressor, evaporator, expansion valve, and condenser are the main components of a typical AC unit. When the air conditioner starts showing some problems, it’s most likely because of a faulty condenser or compressor. In case you notice any of the following signs, it’s best to look for a local air conditioning service for a proper, timely repair.

Signs That Your AC Compressor is Faulty

1. The Compressor Unit Shakes and Produces a Ticking Noise When Starting

One of the significant signs of trouble is a noisy air conditioning system. In case the sound is coming from the compressor, it may indicate that it’s on its way towards breaking down.

Before the compressor fails, it will often make a chattering or a ticking noise whenever the unit is started. This shows that the compressor is finding it hard to start. If the predicament is left ignored, it might eventually damage some expensive components in your unit, and you might have to replace the compressor entirely.

It’s generally easy to fix a faulty compressor if the noise is identified and reported to a professional early enough. In most cases, the sound is caused by a faulty relay switch, and replacing the broken or worn-out switch should solve the problem and save the compressor.

2. The System Trips the Circuit Breaker Repeatedly

If the outside unit of your AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker and often loses power, it could be a sign the compressor has failed. This might be because the compressor is overheating and drawing a lot of energy.

If this happens, don’t reset the circuit breaker or turn on the system repeatedly. This will not handle the issue. Keep in mind that the circuit breaker trips the power to prevent a latent fire hazard. It’s advisable that you call an HVAC professional to perform a detailed inspection on the compressor and your unit’s electrical circuit.

3. The Compressor Doesn’t Turn On

If your home is getting too hot, and your AC unit doesn’t seem to work, inspect the indoor unit of your AC. Is the fan working properly? What about the condensing unit, is it running at all? If the condensing unit is not running, turn down the thermostat to run the compressor. If the compressor doesn’t turn on, it could mean that your compressor has failed already.

Never attempt to fix the problem by yourself, especially if you don’t have a single clue what you’re doing. Get some assistance from a professional AC repair service to diagnose and fix the problem appropriately.

4. Your AC Unit Blows Warm Air

One key indicator that your compressor is failing is when your system blows warm air instead of cold air, even if the condenser seems to be running well. This is evidence that the compressor has lost its cooling power, and therefore unable to pump the refrigerant through the system.

Nonetheless, the AC system might lose its power to cool when there’s a refrigerant leak. If this is the issue, then turn off the system completely and seek professional HVAC assistance immediately. Since the problem could be a result of many different reasons, don’t ignore it, as you might end up with a broken compressor.

5. There’s Moisture Around your AC System

Moisture on or around your HVAC unit could be caused by a leakage in the system. For example, puddles are often caused by an escaping refrigerant. If the refrigerant leaks and the system continues to run without it, the compressor might break down soon.

6. Strange Noises Coming from the Compressor

If the compressor makes a loud rattling or rumbling noise, be sure to turn the system off completely. It could be a sign of the following:

  • A loose distributor motor inside the compressor
  • A component inside the compressor is thrashing around.

In case the compressor motor has become loose, an HVAC professional can help you resolve the issue to prevent further damage to your unit.

It’s best to have an HVAC maintenance service technician inspect your AC unit regularly to prevent issues from happening in the first place. The AC system is a costly appliance, and you need to take good care of it if you want it to reach its lifespan, and to reduce the need for pricey repairs. Have your system inspected and serviced regularly, even if your unit seems to be working all right. Regular maintenance will not only boost its efficiency but also save you money in the long run.

Most repairs on the AC compressors are generally straightforward, but many homeowners avoid calling HVAC services for fear of incurring a hefty bill. If your AC unit is new, repairs might still be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. However, if it’s not, it’s always best to fix problems early to keep it from growing into a more significant problem.

Have one of our techs service your AC. Contact us today!