The compressor would be an excellent candidate if you had to pick a single component to define any air conditioning system. These parts play a critical role in the refrigerant cycle by ensuring correct pressure levels and moving refrigerant throughout the system. Without your compressor, your home's air conditioner could not function at all.
Unfortunately, the compressor is also a high-cost component. While many people believe that they need to replace their whole system when the compressor fails, there are some situations where repair is a better option. The best way to avoid a costly replacement is to spot issues early, and these three warning signs can alert you that your compressor may require attention.
1. Blown Fuses or Breakers
Your home's fuse box or circuit breaker has a simple job: protect the wiring in your house. Overloaded circuits can heat wiring beyond its rated capacity, leading to catastrophic fires. Home air conditioning systems draw a lot of power, so local building codes typically require contractors to install them on their own circuit with a dedicated fuse or breaker.
If your system keeps blowing fuses or tripping breakers, that may be a sign of a failing compressor. As the compressor wears out, the motor can draw too much power (especially when starting), ultimately overloading the circuit. Avoid using the system under these circumstances and contact a technician as soon as possible to examine your compressor and look for other electrical issues.
2. Hard Starting
Just like your car's engine, your air conditioner's compressor requires a "jolt" to get going and overcome its initial mechanical resistance. Most air conditioners use a start capacitor to provide this initial boost. However, you may notice your compressor struggling to start. There may be a clicking or stuttering noise in these cases, and the compressor either will not turn on or take too long to start.
Hard starting can be due to a worn compressor or several other issues. If you want to avoid replacing the compressor, a technician can examine your system for other problems that may be causing the issue. A hard starting kit may also help your compressor get going, allowing you to extend the life of your system for a while longer.
3. Noisy Operation
Air conditioning units aren't typically whisper-quiet, but they shouldn't produce loud or disturbing noises. If you can hear your condenser unit from inside the house, there's a chance your compressor may be suffering. These noises can be due to age, improper alignment (such as a shifting condenser pad), or even lubrication issues.
If you notice your compressor making more noise than you expect, contact a technician immediately for AC system repairs. Leaving the system running in this state can strain the compressor, ultimately turning a potentially cost-effective repair into a wallet-busting replacement.