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Professional Advice: Can Your AC Compressor Be Repaired?

September 19, 2020

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A residential AC compressor repair is sometimes cheaper than replacing the entire air conditioner system; however, not every AC compressor can be repaired. In some cases, it’s actually more cost-effective to choose an entirely new air conditioner altogether.

Is it Possible to Repair Instead of Replace Your AC Compressor?

An AC compressor can be repaired but this is an expensive fix. A failing AC compressor might also indicate that the condensing unit and other major components are ready to shut down as well, and an entirely new air conditioner might be cheaper overall. A new air conditioner or HVAC installation can also mean lower utility costs and easier operation.

Note that most residential HVAC systems last from 10 to 15 years; if your home’s HVAC system is at least eight years old, it’s helpful to start thinking now about how to budget for repairs or replacement, and which is the best choice for your home. It’s also useful to know a bit more about major HVAC components, how they work, and average costs for their repairs or replacement.

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Homeowners also shouldn’t wait for a residential HVAC system to outright fail before calling for repairs! A home’s air conditioner or furnace might indicate needed repairs while still seeming to operate; scheduling those repairs as soon as possible can mean avoiding additional repairs and otherwise unnecessary replacement. Knowing some signs of needed HVAC repairs ensures you can schedule and budget those fixes when needed.

Can Your AC Compressor Be Repaired?

To know if you should invest in AC compressor repairs, note added details about air conditioner parts and what they do to keep your home cool and comfortable!

  • When your home’s thermostat reads a higher temperature than what you’ve set, the central air conditioner kicks on. It first draws air out of exterior spaces through what are called return air ducts.
  • This air is sent through a filter, typically the one in the home’s furnace, which captures and traps dirt, dust, lint, and other irritants.
  • As this air is pulled from the home’s interior rooms, it brings interior heat with it.
  • At the same time, the air conditioner cycles on the condenser and compressor, located in an exterior housing unit, and an evaporator, often located inside the home, typically attached to the furnace.
  • Refrigerant circulates inside copper tubing that runs between the evaporator and the condenser. Inside the evaporator, this refrigerant captures and absorbs that heat from the air.
  • The refrigerant then makes its way to the outdoor part of the tubing, turning to vapor as it does.
  • The AC compressor pressurizes, or compresses, that vapor; this compressing process then dissipates that absorbed heat through the fins or grille of that exterior housing unit. The air is now cooled.
  • The blower inside that housing unit then pushes that now-cooled air through the ductwork and vents of the home.

What Causes an AC Compressor to Stop Working?

Note some typical reasons you might need air conditioner repairs in your home. You can then do everything possible to avoid otherwise unnecessary fixes, or what you might face by way of repair bills.

  • That housing unit dissipates heat, as said. Layers of dirt and other debris blocks that airflow, making the compressor work harder and suffer added wear and tear. In turn, it might simply seize up and fail to operate as it should.
  • As the air circulating around the air conditioner unit is run through the furnace filter, it’s vital you change that filter often! A dirty, clogged filter also causes the compressor to work harder than it should, allowing it to seize up.
  • Excessive dirt and debris collecting around the motor or blower inside the air conditioner also slow airflow, causing the compressor to work harder.
  • As with all mechanical parts, an air conditioner compressor has an expected lifespan. After that time, it will simply break down and fail to operate.

To keep your home’s AC in good working order, ensure that the outdoor housing unit is free of dirt and debris; it’s even recommended that you avoid using covers in wintertime, so air circulates around it at all times. Invest in regular air conditioner maintenance and change the home’s furnace filter often, to protect the HVAC system!

How Do You Know If an AC Compressor Is Bad?

A home’s air conditioner might still cycle on and even blow some cool air through interior rooms despite needing repairs. Knowing some signs of a faulty AC compressor, blower, and other parts ensures that you can schedule air conditioning repairs when needed, keeping those issues from getting more extensive and costlier.

An air conditioner that cycles on but doesn’t circulate cool air throughout the home, or doesn’t cool all rooms evenly, is often a sign of a failing compressor or evaporator. When evaporator coils are damaged, they won’t pull heat from circulating air. When the compressor starts to break down, it also won’t dissipate that heat out of the housing unit; in turn, air might circulate but it might feel “lukewarm” rather than cool.

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Since an air conditioner pulls air through the home’s furnace filter before circulating it back into interior rooms, note if those spaces suddenly seem dustier than usual. If so, the blower or other AC parts might be struggling to work so that they don’t pull as much air from interior rooms as before; in turn, they will leave behind dust, dander, and other airborne irritants!

Air conditioner parts needing repairs might also make odd, unexpected sounds, including squealing, grinding, and thumping. As parts break they tend to rub against other parts, or those parts might work harder to function, creating odd sounds. Never overlook these noises or assume they’re normal somehow, but schedule an air conditioner inspection if you notice any unusual noises when your home’s AC cycles on.

Related AC Compressor Questions:

How Much Does It Cost to Replace an AC Compressor?

On average, AC compressor repair costs or a new air conditioner compressor installation might run from $1500 to over $3000.  Since this is a sizable investment for many homeowners, how do you know when you might invest in repairs or a new AC compressor versus replacing the home’s air conditioner altogether?

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After pricing new air conditioner installation, you might also note the age of your home’s current AC. If it’s more than 8 years old, and especially if it’s more than a decade old, other major parts will probably break down and need repairs in the next few years. Investing in a new AC system now can mean avoiding those repair bills and then the cost of an entirely new unit in a few years as well.

A homeowner might also consider if a new air conditioner is an excellent investment for other reasons; for example, if you’re currently struggling to keep the home cool with an undersized or underpowered AC, this is an excellent time to upgrade! You might also appreciate zone cooling, a built-in dehumidifier or air filtration system, or other such updated features that mean a more comfortable interior environment.

If you might put your home on the real estate market anytime in the future, it’s also vital to consider how an older, outdated, and worn-out HVAC system might affect its value and salability. Potential homebuyers might not want a home with an air conditioner they’ll need to replace in a few years, or might reduce their asking price considerably, to compensate for their hassle of replacing that system. Investing in a new air conditioner or complete HVAC system now can mean an energy-efficient system that homebuyers appreciate and that won’t detract from your home’s desirability in a few years.


How to Choose the Best Air Conditioner for Your Home

If you do decide on new air conditioner installation for your home, how do you choose the best model? Your air conditioner contractor can help determine the right load size, meaning the amount of cooling needed for your home. This load size will be determined according to your home’s square footage, sunlight exposure, insulation quality, and other such factors.

Once you’ve determined the right size, note any added features you might prefer. For example, if you live in the tropics or are especially sensitive to humidity, a built-in dehumidifier allows the AC to remove even more humidity than average. A built-in air purifier also ensures better air quality than a standard furnace filter, a must-have for anyone suffering with allergies, asthma, and other such health concerns.

You might also appreciate zone cooling, which allows you to cool certain areas of the home at one time. This is especially helpful for singles or small families where all the home’s occupants are typically in one space rather than spread throughout the home! Zone cooling means not wasting power on keeping the entire home cool but choosing which areas you need air conditioned at one time.

When your home needs AC compressor repair, take that opportunity to note if a new AC or entire HVAC system is the better choice. This can mean a more comfortable home, lower utility bills, and even improved indoor air quality! Choosing a new AC installation is then the better choice than expensive AC compressor repairs.

Don't just take our words for it, come see why thousands of homeowners trust HVAC Repair Pearland for all their HVAC related services.


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