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Avoid Air Conditioning Repair: NYC Techs Talk Compressor Failure

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Last Updated on July 29, 2015


Compressor Failure Could Mean Serious Air Conditioning Repair in NYC

When a service tech inspects your broken air conditioner, the very LAST thing you want to hear him or her say is, “Sorry, the compressor has failed.” It’s often a death sentence for an air conditioning unit since it’s such a costly part to replace. If your warranty has expired and the cost to replace a compressor exceeds a third of the cost of a new unit, you may be facing the purchase of a new air conditioner. Either way, it’s going to cost you a bundle.

The surprising fact is that as many as 80 percent of compressor failures could be prevented if the problems leading to the failure were corrected in a timely manner. These problems can be detected and eliminated during regular preventative maintenance and help you avoid costly air conditioning repair in NYC.

What is so important about the compressor anyway?

Your air conditioner’s compressor is usually located with the condenser and the fan in the outside portion of the unit. Its job is to compress the refrigerant gas (hence the name) so that it can travel through the condenser coil and facilitate the removal of heat from the air. You may have heard your air conditioning technician refer to the compressor as the “heart of the system.” This is a good analogy for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s one of the key components without which the system can’t function
  • It’s usually very reliable, and if it’s failed before its expected life span (10 to 15 years), it’s probably due to an underlying cause that’s often preventable.

This second point is important to understand, because if you do replace a failed compressor without addressing the underlying cause of the failure, it’s very likely that the new compressor will fail as well.

What are the preventable causes of compressor failure related air conditioning repair?

Whether you’ve had a failed compressor in the past, or just want to keep the one you’ve got in tip top shape, here what you need to know about why compressors fail before their time:

  1. Inadequate amount of lubricant in the system. To take the heart comparison a step further, think of your air conditioner’s oil lubricant like the blood in your body. If there’s not enough, the system can’t work properly and all kinds of problems can result, including compressor failure. An inadequate amount of lubricant can happen if the installer didn’t add enough or put it in the wrong place, if the system develops a leak, if it hasn’t been maintained, or if the oil pump has failed.
  2. Refrigerant charge. Both too little refrigerant (caused by leaks in the system) and too much refrigerant (if a technician adds too much or the wrong type) can cause a strain on the system that leads to increased pressure, temperature, and ultimately, compressor failure–all resulting in costly air conditioning repair.
  3. Electrical failure. Electrical problems can result in a buildup of acids that cause a great deal of damage to other parts in addition to the compressor. If you have a failed compressor, make sure the technician tests for the presence of these acids. If he finds them, an electrical burnout has caused damage throughout the system that is probably not worth fixing; you’re better off looking at a new system.
  4. Contaminants in the system. The high heat and pressure in an air conditioning system, not to mention the locations where they are typically housed (outdoors, on rooftops, in crawl spaces) can introduce any number of contaminants that can cause damage. These include air, moisture, dirt, debris, leaves, soot, acids, and even bird and pest droppings.
  5. Overheating. If the suction line is blocked, or the condenser is not cooling properly due to buildup on the coils, the system is forced to work harder. The increased pressure and temperature can cause the compressor to overheat and fail.

Make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

The good news is, all of these problems are preventable with regular system maintenance. You can keep your compressor and your entire air conditioning system healthy by having it tuned up at least once a year (depending on the load and usage) by experienced professionals. Think of it as a wellness checkup. Your service visit will include the following and more:

  • Clean and lubricate all moving parts and check for lubricant leaks.
  • Check refrigerant charge and add as needed. If refrigerant is low, check for and fix leaks.
  • Check wiring, capacitors and electrical connections. Replace any worn parts.
  • Thoroughly clean the system including coils, lines, fan blades, and drip pans to remove debris and contaminants.
  • Check temperature and humidity levels to make sure system is cooling properly.

Making the investment in taking care of your system now will save you a bundle in repair or even system replacement costs later.

Want to learn more about setting up a service contract for preventative maintenance that’s based on your needs, business and budget? Grab a copy of our helpful guide: HVAC preventative maintenance contracts: How to Find the Right One for Your HVAC Infrastructure.

To learn more about whether or not your compressor failure means you should repair or replace your AC unit, download our free guide.

Should you repair or replace that broken HVAC equipment? Download the complete guide.