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Atlantic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Inc. Blog

3 Causes of Compressor Failure

compressor-in-outdoor-unitAn easy way to understand the purpose of refrigerant in your air conditioner is by comparing it to blood in the body. The refrigerant flows through the AC system, changing from a gaseous state to a liquid state, and leaves your home nice and cool as a result. Without the perfect amount, the system (or body) will fail to operate properly. However, this phase change is impossible without the compressor, the component that pumps the refrigerant through the system. In this analogy, then, the compressor is the heart. Likewise, a broken compressor won’t be cheap to fix. Before it gets to the point that you need to call an AC repair service, you can first look out for the symptoms of compressor failure as explained in the causes below.

1. Too Little or Too Much Refrigerant

In the event that the amount of refrigerant in the system is not perfect, it could create too much pressure or strain and lead to compressor failure.

Too little refrigerant is most likely caused by an insufficient charge from the last technician, or from a refrigerant leak. A leak, in itself, is a serious problem that needs immediate attention. For your compressor, however, it will work harder than needed to pump enough refrigerant through to the whole system. This extra strain can lead to a breakdown.

In the event of too much refrigerant—which would only happen if an unqualified technician or amateur doesn’t charge it properly—it can lead create too much pressure in the system and send your compressor to an early grave.

2. Dirty or Frozen Coils

There are two sets of coils that help transfer heat through your AC system. If one or both of them are not able to perform this function, it can cause the refrigerant to flow backward into the compressor, which is a recipe for a breakdown.

Due to a number of possible causes, the evaporator coil can freeze up. This will prevent it from being able to absorb heat. In the event of frozen coils, turn off the AC to let the ice thaw (don’t try to pick it away!) and call in a professional for an official diagnosis of the problem.

The condenser coil is located outdoors, so it’s no surprise that this coil can sometimes become victim to getting covered in dust and dirt. In this case, the coil won’t be able to disperse the heat it has collected, which can cause overheating.

3. Contamination

The compressor is not supposed to compress anything but refrigerant in its gaseous state. If it tries to pump anything else, it can cause the compressor to break.

Oil leaks or oil pump failures can cause oil to go in places it shouldn’t, and this can lead to contamination of your compressor. Other contaminants that can affect your compressor are air, moisture, and dirt. Moisture, to point out one example, can create rust that will mix with the refrigerant and cause issues in the compressor.

Even if your compressor fails you, we never will! Contact Atlantic Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc. today.


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