What many homeowners don’t realize about the air conditioner’s compressor is that this component is the most important, and the most expensive, part of the system. So if it breaks down, you might be wondering, “Is this the end of my air conditioner?”
The short, noncommittal answer to this is “maybe.” Don’t worry, we will elaborate!
Your compressor is tasked with actually allowing refrigerant within the system to move and transfer from a gaseous to a liquid state and vice versa. This is what makes the cooling process possible. In some cases, you may be able to replace just the compressor and not the air conditioner, if the compressor malfunctions, but in most cases, it’s best to replace the whole AC system. Read on to learn why!
Your Air Conditioner Might Be Old
As we mentioned above, the air conditioner’s compressor is the most expensive part of the whole system. But what if you have an older air conditioner? Now, if your cooling system is only a few years old, and you’ve had it routinely maintained by professionals, and the compressor fails, it’s likely still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty–because compressors shouldn’t fail that quickly!
If your warranty is still current when your compressor breaks down, you can absolutely replace just the compressor and be in good shape.
But how about if your air conditioning system is 10-15 years old? This is the average useful lifespan for a well-maintained system. Past this, it starts working inefficiently anyway, which can cost you more in utility bills from month to month. So, if the compressor within it fails, and you don’t have a current manufacturer’s warranty, it’s probably not worth replacing just that component–because you’ll be paying almost as much as you would for the compressor as a whole new AC system.
“How Do I Know If My Compressor Is Struggling?”
This is a great question! After all, you won’t even know whether or not you should replace your compressor or not if you don’t even know that the compressor is what’s causing the AC problems. Fortunately, there are some signs you can watch out for that indicate compressor failure.
For instance, one sign that your compressor is having problems is a lack of cool air from the air conditioner. Your air conditioner needs refrigerant to successfully and consistently flow into the evaporate coil at high pressure in order for the system to function, and if this is not happening, then your system won’t be able to actually cool.
Another sign that your air conditioner is having a problem with its compressor is that you might hear strange sounds. For example, a hissing sound could mean you have a refrigerant leak, which can lead to compressor problems, or you might hear the compressor itself struggling to start up, you might hear it hard-starting, or you may hear it humming loudly.
The bottom line is, if you discover anything off about your AC operation, it’s time to give our technicians a call.