Air Conditioning 101: What You Should Know About the Compressor

If you were introduced to air conditioning for the first time today, you might be amazed at how it magically creates cool, refreshing air. But once you learn how an AC works, you find that it’s an impressive system that uses basic heat transfer physics. To put it simply, heat air is attracted to cooler areas. And one of the most important components that makes that happen in an air conditioning system is the compressor.

What You Should Know About the Compressor

What does the compressor do?

In a typical central air conditioning system, the compressor is located in the outdoor unit. When you hear the unit kick on and it sounds like a motor, that’s the compressor at work. Its job is to compress the refrigerant and push it through the refrigerant line. This refrigerant (in gas form) is what absorbs heat from the indoor air. The compressor circulates the refrigerant outside where it turns back into liquid form and releases the heat into the outdoor air. This process is repeated until the inside air is at the desired temperature.

What happens if the compressor fails?

Just like the motor in your car, the compressor is designed with many moving parts that all need to work together. This means that the compressor accumulates wear and tear, and will eventually break down. When the compressor dies, the air conditioning has no way of circulating the refrigerant, meaning it won’t turn on or you’ll only get warm air blowing out of the vents. In many cases, when the compressor fails, the best solution is to replace the entire AC unit.

Signs of a faulty compressor

Obviously, you would prefer that your compressor lasts as long as possible. If you catch early warning signs that your AC compressor is struggling, there’s a better chance that you can have maintenance or repair done to save the system.

Here are common warning signs to look out for:

  • Strange noises – Don’t ignore odd unusual sounds, including rattling and ticking
  • Poor cooling performance – If the AC is running but can’t seem to get the indoor air cool enough, it might be a sign that compressor is struggling
  • Increased energy bills – If your energy bills suddenly spikes without explanation, it might due to a problem with the AC compressor so it has to work overtime to get the job done
  • The AC’s circuit breaker keeps tripping – This could be a sign of an electrical issue that is causing the compressor to overheat or draw too much power
  • Leaks around the outdoor unit – If there’s a puddle of liquid around the outdoor AC unit, it could be a refrigerant leak, which can put extra strain on the compressor

How to maximize the service life of the compressor

Having professional maintenance on your air conditioning is the best way to preserve the life of the compressor (as well as other major components). Maintenance ensures that the compressor is clean, moving parts are in working order, and the refrigerant level is correct.

For all your air conditioning maintenance, repair, and installations needs in Murrieta and Winchester, CA, trust the pros at Liberty Plumbing. You can schedule a hassle-free appointment by calling (951) 760-4215.