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Air Conditioning 101: How Does the Compressor Work?

Aircon Parts

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Enjoying the cooling comfort of your air conditioner? You have the compressor to thank for! This essential aircon part is responsible for cooling the air, and without it, the HVAC unit cannot run properly. See below on just how vital this part is, and how to determine if you have a faulty compressor in your unit.

What is An Air Conditioner Compressor?

Air conditioning compressors are the focal point of HVAC systems as they are the parts that make cool air possible. Like its name suggests, an air conditioner compressor is responsible for compressing the refrigerant. It is a vital part of any air conditioner, and is what maintains gaseous refrigerant levels.

The AC compressor is located in the outdoor unit of your air conditioner. It is powered by the drive belt, and is essentially the core component of your air conditioning system. It is often called the heart of your air conditioner as it pumps coolant through the entire system.

How Do Air Conditioning Compressors Work?

An AC compressor works to cool your home by compressing the gas refrigerant into liquid. As the warm air passes through the air conditioner, gaseous refrigerant fills the evaporator coils. These coils absorb heat, and transfer the warmed refrigerant to the outdoor unit where the condenser coils release the warm air outside.

The refrigerant then travels through a low-pressure line to be processed by the AC compressor, turning the gas refrigerant into a liquid, cooling the air that gets transferred back into the room to maintain its low temperature.

This cycle continues to run as long as the air conditioner is being used, and the room has yet to achieve the desired temperature set on the thermostat. Problems with AC compressors can be expensive, as replacement parts are priced high. No air conditioning unit can function without AC compressors, so users need to ensure proper maintenance for their compressors.

Diagnosing a Faulty Compressor

Based on its role within the air conditioning system, a faulty compressor can no longer produce cold air enough to effectively lower the temperature of the room. A faulty compressor can be identified by a number of signs, but the most prominent sign is that the air conditioning unit can no longer blow cool air. Here are the ways you can identify a faulty compressor:

  • Air conditioner blows warm air instead of cooling the room, which can be supplemented by low refrigerant levels as the compressor can no longer process the coolant.
  • The air conditioner is leaking water due to a refrigerant leak.
  • The air conditioning unit is emitting a clicking noise when turned on, which happens as the compressor is struggling to function properly.
  • The air conditioning unit is tripping circuit breakers as the AC works harder to cool the air with a faulty compressor.
  • Air conditioner is short-cycling as the malfunctioning compressor fails to process the refrigerant, leading to a malfunction in the entire aircon system.
  • Air conditioner is overheating as the faulty compressor is exerting excess force to process the refrigerant.

Is an Air Conditioner Compressor Repairable?

The short answer is yes, air conditioning compressors can be repaired by a licensed HVAC technician for minor issues with your unit, particularly pertaining to related parts that work with the compressor. However, replacing the compressor itself might not be worth it.

Technicians may advise you to simply replace the entire unit instead of replacing a faulty compressor that is already too damaged to fix. In most cases, a compressor would cost more than half of a new air conditioning unit, which is why many technicians recommend going for a full replacement of the entire HVAC unit instead!

Compressing Issues

Contact any of our Luce Aircon technicians immediately if you spot a problem with your compressor. The compressor is one of the most vital parts of your aircon, and the slightest issue with it should be resolved before the compressor is damaged further. Replacement compressors are notoriously expensive, so avoid the high costs with thorough aircon maintenance.

Give us a call or send us an email, and we'll work to get your aircon up and running again! 

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Staff Writer

Staff Writer

This article is written by our passionate staff writers who seek to share our knowledge from our business

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