Why Won't Your AC Compressor Turn On?


Your AC compressor is the pumping heart of your home's air conditioning system. If your compressor doesn't turn on, then the refrigerant that transports heat away from home's interior will not cycle between the high and low-pressure sides of the system. In other words, your entire AC system will come to a screeching halt. 

In addition to being the most crucial part of any AC system, the compressor also tends to be the most costly. Fortunately, your compressor is not necessarily a goner just because it refuses to turn on. Below you will find three common reasons why AC compressors may stop working.

1. Refrigerant Pressure Issues

Your air conditioner's refrigerant cycle relies on highly specific pressure conditions. Too much or too little refrigerant will cause a subcooling condition, which means that temperatures at the evaporator coil become too cold. In these situations, ice may form on the coils, and the compressor will need to work much harder to keep the system running.

When this happens, your compressor may overheat and shut down as a protective measure. While running a compressor under these conditions may eventually cause permanent damage, you can save the unit by acting quickly. In most cases, you can salvage the situation by having a professional drain and refill the refrigerant lines at the proper pressure.

2. Maintenance Problems

Anything that causes the evaporator coils to freeze can result in the compressor locking up. The evaporator coils rely on airflow to move cold air through the ductwork, and anything that impedes the flow of air over the coils can lead to trouble. In most cases, this is the result of a clogged air filter. A heavy build-up of dust may also prevent proper heat transfer from the coils.

3. Electrical Faults

If your compressor won't turn on, it's always a good idea to confirm that power is available. Electrical faults in the condenser unit can sometimes cause a breaker to trip, leading to the whole system shutting down. Many air conditioners use dedicated circuits, so you may not notice a loss of power anywhere else in your home.

A one-off event shouldn't be a significant source of concern, but you should not use an air conditioning system that frequently trips breakers. When this happens, it generally indicates a wiring fault or even an issue with the electrical circuit itself. Since electrical problems can pose fire hazards, you should always rely on a professional to investigate the underlying problem.

While the cost of replacing a compressor can be frightening, most will last for the lifetime of an AC system. If your compressor stops working, there's most likely an HVAC repair option that does not involve installing an entirely new unit.


18 August 2020

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