By now it’s probably common knowledge to homeowners that the compressor of their air conditioner is the most expensive component. Anytime you hear a professional tell you that the “compressor is shot and needs to be replaced,” you know you’re either in for a huge repair bill or it’s time to start planning for a system replacement. That being said, let’s take all of the stress and anxiety out of the equation for a second while we talk about how a compressor might fail.
When it comes to air conditioning repair in Sanford, FL, the compressor is probably the single most important component that you should know about. When looking at a malfunctioning air conditioner, or a system that’s starting to run into problems with efficiency, you should know what that means for the health and longevity of the unit’s compressor.
Let’s talk about compressors!
What Does the Compressor Do?
Let’s start from the beginning. What exactly is a compressor and what does it do? It’s a large steel box that pressurizes the refrigerant in your air conditioner. In the same way that machines pressurize oxygen tanks, an air conditioner’s compressor squeezes the space the refrigerant is contained in, causing it to increase in pressure and eventually turn into a gas.
Then, further down the line, the compressor is going to increase the volume of refrigerant which causes it to depressurize. This turns it back into a liquid.
The process of increasing and decreasing pressure over and over again is what essentially moves heat from one location to the other. Without the compressor, an air conditioner is just an oversized fan! The compressor is what allows it to cool the air’s temperature before blowing it into your home.
How Can Your Compressor Fail?
Compressors require a lot of energy to pressurize refrigerant. Sometimes you can tell that your compressor is having trouble if you notice that your energy bills have gone up. Though, here are some specific reasons why a compressor might struggle and fail:
- Leaking refrigerant. If there’s not enough refrigerant in your air conditioner then your compressor is going to work harder to pressurize the limited amount of refrigerant that’s left. This can lead to AC system failure.
- It’s improperly sized. A compressor that’s too small or too large for a home will quickly overheat or short-cycle as it tries and fails to cool your home’s specific air volume.
- It’s shot. If a component gets loose and starts banging around inside the compressor, it could break or disrupt other components. Basically, a shot compressor can and eventually will fail.
All Is Not Lost
Are you dealing with a failed compressor? Before anxiety gets a firm grip over you, we’ve got a few words of wisdom.
- While compressor repairs are the most expensive types of AC repairs, they’re not impossible. Sometimes, especially if you’ve got a newer AC, compressor repairs are warranted.
- If you have an older AC, then replacing the whole system might be more beneficial for your long-term budgeting and comfort.
The “Replacement” Rule
Here’s a rule of thumb we use to determine whether or not you should replace your whole system or just the failed compressor. If the repair costs half as much or more than the cost of a full system replacement, it’s almost always more cost-effective to replace your air conditioner. Otherwise, you should replace the compressor.