As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When we hear it, the phrase reminds us of air conditioning compressors. If that sounds strange, let us explain.
Of all the parts of your home air conditioning system, the compressor is one of the most important – and also one of the most expensive to fix if it fails. That’s why maintenance (prevention) is preferable to replacement (cure). Makes more sense now, right?
How an AC compressor works.
Before we cover the ways you can prolong the life of your AC compressor, it’s important to understand what it actually does. Its job is to cycle refrigerant between the evaporator and the condenser coils. The refrigerant keeps the coils cold so they can cool the hot air that is pulled from the inside of your home. During the process, the refrigerant is turned from a liquid to a gas. The condenser then transports the gas refrigerant to the evaporator so it can be turned back into a liquid.
Bottom line, without the compressor, your air conditioner wouldn’t be able to produce the cool air to keep your home comfortable in the summer.
How to prevent compressor failure.
To prevent your AC condenser from wearing down and malfunctioning, it’s recommended that you have an HVAC professional service the unit once or twice a year.
A good maintenance plan should include the following:
- Cleaning the coils – When coils are dirty, they lose their ability to transfer heat. This causes your AC to work harder and puts more pressure on the compressor.
- Clearing suction lines – If your AC is not cooling as well as it’s supposed to, one cause may be blocked refrigerant lines. By clearing out the lines, you can avoid the compressor from overheating.
- Fixing a refrigerant leak – Another risk for the refrigerant line is developing holes or cracks, allowing the refrigerant to leak out of the closed loop. This means the compressor will have to work harder to compensate, eventually leading to a failure.
- Checking lubricant levels – The compressor relies on oil lubricant to keep things moving smoothly. If the lubricant levels are too low or the oil pump isn’t working properly, it’s only a matter of time until there’s an issue with the compressor.
- Addressing electrical problems – Any issue with the power for your AC unit is a serious problem. One thing to look out for is a buildup of acids that can damage the compressor or other components. Catching these electrical problems early is very important for preventing a costly repair.
We hope this article gives you a new appreciation for the compressor of your air conditioner. If you treat it right, it will return the favor and you can enjoy cold air for many years.