air conditioning repairs

7 Causes Of Air Conditioner Compressor Failure

It’s 100 degrees out … and your air conditioner died.

When you manage an office building filled with tenants, that can be one of your worst nightmares. While we all love enjoying a warm, summer day, being stuck in an office with no way to cool down isn’t part of the list.
Your air conditioner’s compressor is often called the heart of the system for good reasons.
  • The system can’t function without it
  • Its job is to compress the refrigerant and pump it throughout the system to remove heat and humidity from the air

The compressor is a reliable part of the system, and with a little maintenance, it should keep working without a problem throughout its life expectancy. If it does fail, it’s usually a sign of a major problem, and is sometimes impossible to fix.

The common causes of air conditioner compressor problems are:

Dirty Coils
Dirt, grime, dust and mineral deposits all accumulate on the condenser coil over time. If it builds up enough, it can no longer expel heat from the system, and it begins running constantly trying to cool your space. The increased pressure causes the compressor to overheat and fail.
Low Refrigerant
When a refrigerant line has holes or cracks, the refrigerant begins to leak. If it isn’t fixed and filled, it becomes so low the compressor has to work harder to pump refrigerant into the system. The strain will eventually cause the compressor to break down.
Too Much Refrigerant
Too much refrigerant is equally as bad for a compressor. If too much refrigerant is put into the system, or if the wrong type of refrigerant is used, it can cause the compressor to stop working altogether.
Blocked Refrigerant Lines
The compressor pumps refrigerant through the lines of the system. If these lines become clogged or blocked, it can cause pressure to build, the temperature to rise and overheat, and eventually cause AC compressor failure.
Incorrect Refrigerant Lines
If you start to notice your air conditioner isn’t cooling as it once did, calling in a technician is the first step. However, if the HVAC technician is anything but reputable, you might not get the service you expect. Some HVAC technicians may replace a leaking or broken line with one that is too large or too small for your system. This process can cause the system to build pressure, overheat, and eventually stop the compressor altogether.
Electrical Problems
Electrical problems start out small and build rapidly. Yet once damage is done, there is usually no repairing a compressor – replacement is your only option. A regular maintenance schedule can allow an experienced technician to find and repair damaged wiring, short fuses, and other potential hazards within the system before they happen.
Inadequate Lubricant
Think of a compressors oil lubricant in much the same way as blood in your body. It’s what keeps the system functional. When there isn’t enough, the system works overtime, and eventually fails altogether.


Take good care of your AC compressor as we head into the warmest months of the year. When you perform regular maintenance, you’ll not only ensure you have a cool atmosphere when you need it most, you’ll also extend the life of your compressor to the fullest, saving you money in the process.

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