How to Check an Air Conditioner Compressor

The heart of your air conditioner, a compressor is a pump that pressurizes and circulates refrigerant through your cooling system. Most air conditioner compressors are rugged, well-built products. When properly installed and maintained, you can expect your compressor to work well throughout your system’s service life. When an operating issue arises, it’s critical to diagnose the problem correctly to avoid an unnecessary AC repair. At WA Air Conditioning, we’re pleased to offer these trouble-shooting tips for checking your air conditioner compressor.

Diagnosing AC Compressor Failures

Compressors contain multiple components, including electrical wiring, valves and moving parts connected to the system’s motor. Failures in other system components can cause the compressor to stop working as well. Common air conditioner compressor issues include:

  • Sudden AC Shutdowns on Hot Days. Compressors are often equipped with a high-pressure limit switch that keeps them from overheating when cooling demands are high. A reset button is located on the compressor’s access panel.
  • Broken or Loose Air Conditioner Valves. Compressors have intake and discharge valves that control refrigerant pressure as it enters and exits the unit. Faulty or failed valves impair the system’s ability to cool. An experienced HVAC contractor may be able to correct improperly seated valves. Broken valves, however, can require the replacement of the entire outdoor AC unit.
  • Improper HVAC System Size. An oversized AC system can cause the system to cycle on and off frequently, and that can cause undue wear on compressor, leading to a premature breakdown. A skilled HVAC technician can make retrofits to your existing system to correct improperly sized systems.
  • Corroded Wiring or Terminals. Electronic components are particularly sensitive to humid conditions that can lead to corrosion. Electrical AC repairs require specialized testing equipment like multimeters that measure electric current, voltage, and resistance. For your safety, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends calling a professional HVAC contractor to trouble-shoot electrical connections and contacts.

Preventing Compressor Problems

Because an AC compressor is one of the most expensive components in a cooling system to replace, it pays to ensure that it’s cared for properly with preventative air conditioner maintenance. Regular check-ups are an economical way to make sure that all the components of your cooling system operate at peak efficiency, saving you money on monthly energy bills. Professional care extends the service life of your system as well.

At WA Air Conditioning, our HVAC technicians are experienced in diagnosing, repairing and replacing all major makes and models of compressors. Whether conducting regular air conditioner maintenance, replacing a compressor or installing a brand new system, our first priority is to ensure that your Trinity, TX, home or business stays comfortably cool for many years to come. Call us to schedule maintenance or when you are in need of AC repair.


May 17, 2013 4:19 pm