Signs and Symptoms of a Bad AC Compressor

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Richmond, VA summers can get hot, and it’s not uncommon for us to get calls from panicking homeowners saying their AC unit has broken down during the summer months.

One of the most common causes for this is a failing AC compressor, a part that generally gives signs and symptoms of failure before breaking down completely. Unfortunately many homeowners don’t call until their entire unit stops working, which is why it’s helpful to know how to tell if your home AC compressor is bad. Taking action before the compressor completely goes out can save you from suffering through summer heat and the avoidable cost of fixing a broken HVAC system.

Your compressor is the part of your AC unit that transforms the refrigerant chemicals from liquid to gas and back again, generating cool air. It’s a pretty complex piece of your unit, and it comes with both easy to spot and subtle warning signs of trouble. Some of the obvious signs include:

  • A rattling noise: A noisy AC unit is a sign of trouble, specifically with your compressor. Before the component fails, it starts hard starting, which means it struggles to turn on. If you hear a rattling noise when you first turn on your AC, the electrical relay switch that starts your compressor may be wearing out.
  • A rumbling or clicking noise: Similar to the sounds described above, a clicking sound when the AC starts could mean the compressor motor mounts have failed and the motor that distributes cool air from within the compressor has come loose.
  • Moisture leaks: If you see puddles or signs of moisture around your HVAC system, this could mean refrigerant is leaking out of the compressor. If this goes on for too long, your AC will stop working altogether because it will run dry of the chemicals it needs to generate cool air.

Loud noises and leaks are easy things to spot, but there are also more subtle signs that could indicate your compressor is bad to be aware of. These signs include:

  • Lack of airflow: Have you noticed diminished airflow coming from your AC vents? If so, your compressor might be struggling. It’s a good idea to call a trained HVAC professional as soon as you notice because this could also be due to clogged ductwork.
  • Warmer air: Maybe your airflow is still steady, but it’s now a lot warmer than it should be. This means your compressor is low on refrigerant. You’ll need to call a professional to figure out why.

All of these issues need to be addressed by an HVAC professional, but it’s best to recognize them before total failure sets in – for your quality of life as well as your wallet. If you are concerned about your AC compressor, call us today at 804.276.2800 and see why we’ve been the reliable Richmond, VA heating and air conditioning experts since 1943.