If you find something odd with your air conditioner, you get confused if it is a minor issue that you can fix or you need expert help. It becomes an issue of concern when you find out the problem is related to the AC compressor. In this situation, you must understand how to tell if the AC compressor is bad.

As you already know, an air compressor is the backbone of an air conditioner, in charge of ventilating the cooling system so it can absorb and remove heat from your room to outside. If it collapses, fixing it becomes costly and even needs the whole unit replacement. That is why it is a topic of concern, as I mentioned.


All about an ac compressor and its working process

Let’s proceed by acknowledging the principles of the compressor of an AC. The compressor is not connected to the large metallic box on the exterior wall of your system. Indoor HVAC is connected to that box. Inside the box, the compressor is found with other parts. As the compressor is the major part of the cooling system, the whole box is known as the ‘AC Compressor.’

Motorized engines are AC compressors or heat pumps. The main task is to transfer the coolant gas to the exterior condenser or the AC compressor from the cooling coil of the indoor. With the compression of the gas, it chills and revolves it into a liquid status.

The refrigerant gas comes back from the indoor thermal coil to the external AC compressor when passing through the wider coolant “suction column.”

The liquid is transferred to the indoor air operator area and then to the coil. It disperses from the outdoor compressor. The air cools down by evaporating in the cooling coil and losing moisture.

Heat travels from inside to outside by condensing the refrigerant gas in the AC compressor. If you have a heating pump, the process happens in reverse to transfer heat from the outdoor air into the indoor coil when you need heat.

Compressors of air conditioners usually survive approximately one decade, with scheduled servicing and ordinary usage. In southern countries, AC compressors typically deteriorate faster as it has a high number of users here. If it functions weirdly, it indicates that an AC compressor needs maintenance before it collapses entirely.


Also, read How to add oil to an air conditioning compressor?


Early indications of failing an ac compressor

Before collapsing, the AC compressor entirely shows some first indication that helps you understand how to tell if the AC compressor is bad. Because these signs are effortless to overlook, it doesn’t indicate you will keep ignoring them. It may cause a sudden shutdown or breakdown. Mild problems start with a decline in cooler air or warmer air from the duct without any reason. These early symptoms indicate something is incorrect in the system or the ducts.

Reduced airflow: The first symptom that is difficult to realize quite often is an AC compressor is failing or not functioning correctly is reduced airflow from the AC vents. As I discussed earlier, the compressor produces cold air. If it starts to struggle, it will not produce the required air as usual. It will result in providing less air coming from the duct. Calling a trained HVAC professional as soon as you notice will be wise since decreased flow increases as a symbol of duct clogging.

Warm air: Though some compressors crack in a manner that minimizes airflow, others are damaged differently, letting them stop distributing air. It will allow warm air to come out. While you switch on the AC, the warm air of your ducts indicates your compressor is not functioning correctly. In this case, you need to ask for a professional’s help.

High electricity bill: Observing your electricity bill is another way to verify your AC compressor. If your electricity bill climbs up without any practical reason, ask the technician for an examination of the HVAC. If the compressor needs maintenance, it will not compress enough gas. It lowers the compressor’s capacity. Looking to meet the conditioning demands is going longer and causes a huge electricity bill.

Also, read How to add oil to an air conditioning compressor?


The common signs to identify if the ac compressor is bad

Out here are four unmistakable signs of failure of the AC compressor. We will clarify further about each of them below.

Brief loops or fluctuating temperatures:

If the AC compressor shuts before space cools down, it could be short cycling. It means the early termination of the process. Dirt in air filters, damaged thermostats, or incorrect size of HVAC units are the reasons behind the short cycle of AC compressor.

The loud and annoying sound of the condenser:

Your external air-conditioning unit sounds much louder than usual, or it makes strange sounds you never heard earlier. Such signs of AC compressor may occur because of the failure of electronic parts or even a cracked fan motor within the condenser unit that is buzzing around. Moreover, you can get it repaired before compressor failure results in a strain on the machine.

It would be best not to try to mend it yourself as you are not an expert. It will be wise to seek an expert’s help though costly.

The vibration of the condensing unit while turning on:

If you find out the vibration of the condensing unit when it starts on, it is fighting to start or turn on. It is an ordinary sign before the crashing of the compressor. Never try to outlook the AC compressor malfunction sign! Switch off the device quickly, and ask an HVAC specialist to test the compressor.

Droplets or leakage:

It must be a refrigerant leak if you notice what appears to be leakage on any portion of your air-conditioning machine. It is severe as it can be the reason for many health hazards like irritation of the eyes, headaches, and vomiting. If you listen to a crackling noise while running to the AC compressor, it indicates leakage.

An HVAC technician needs to fix this immediately. Stop fixing it by yourself as the refrigerant is toxic.


Do not neglect the signals of failure of the compressor

Never overlook the signs of compressor failure. Especially when you think of a commercial regime, as many people and their work depend on the air conditioning of the space. If it doesn’t work correctly, it disrupts the performance of your staff and may make you lose clients.

Though it is convenient to cope with AC compressor malfunction symptoms and hope that the issue might be solved automatically, this may cause sudden shutting down. And procrastination may cause more harm and cost for services.

Contact the technician and expert to examine your machine and replace any damaged parts regularly. This way, you will resolve problems like malfunctioning compressors by identifying the root cause. Be addressed before reaching the point where they cause damage to the compressor.


Outdoor maintenance guidelines

We have some takeaways for the maintenance of the outdoor AC compressors. By following the instructions, you will prevent the failure of compressors’ performance very frequently.

  • Be careful in the landscape.
  • Give the compressor a breathing space.
  • Protect from the pet and critter
  • Be cautious in the landscape: Swerve to avoid an outdoor device like an AC compressor by the lawnmower and “meth-eaters” while mowing around. Though it appears strong, anything from a rock to dust hit by the mower to gusts can harm the ducts.
  • Give the compressor a breathing space: Make sure to maintain a couple of feet of greenery set back from the system to keep a ventilation barrier. It quickly colonizes and blocks local plants and shrubs nearby. However, heavy wind or a long unserviced period may lead to grass, tree branches, or other particles getting jammed in it. It obstructs the air circulation and causes issues and failure to the system.
  • Protect from the pet and critter: Many pets like to make scratches on the compressor of AC until the aluminum coat on fins is damaged. Sometimes the rats and birds hide and use it as their home. When you figure out your pet is destroying it with only a wire fence, you can save the compressor. Make sure to keep space so that the compressor is reachable for servicing.
  • Use a wire fence that provides proper ventilation but keeps the pet from the air conditioning unit a fair distance. If you see any odd signs anywhere in your AC compressor, seek an expert’s help. The technician can clean up all hatching matters or nest that exists.


Closing statement

An AC compressor represents the heart of the AC system. It is very important to check whether it is working correctly or not. It will provide you with the conception of how to tell if the AC compressor is bad.

When you feel that there are issues with your AC compressor or any part of your AC system, seek help from a professional mechanic for diagnosing the system. This issue needs to be resolved before the system ceases functioning. Experts can also fix parts of the AC compressor and its parts in the event of need. So always observe the system to notice any symptom of compressor failure listed above.