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Why Is My AC Compressor Not Turning On?

What is an Air Conditioner Compressor?

why is y ac compressor not turning on

The compressor is a critical component of your air conditioning system. It moves the refrigerant through the AC unit by compressing the liquid refrigerant into a gas. Once this gas moves to the indoor unit from the outdoor unit, it absorbs the warm air that the air vents have pulled in and pushes the warm air back outside while blowing the cool air into your rooms. 

How Long Should My AC Compressor Last?

Your ac compressor should last 10-15 years if your air conditioner is properly maintained. This is the average life cycle of an air conditioning unit. The air compressor is the heart of the air conditioning system and works hard to cool your home. If your air conditioner is not regularly maintained, it can work even harder and wear out faster. If you’re not performing routine maintenance on your ac system, you could be looking at replacing the ac unit sooner than 10-15 years.

How Can I Tell if the AC Compressor is Turning On?

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The noise you hear from your air conditioner is the ac compressor running. If you don’t hear any noise, your ac compressor is not turning on. Another warning sign to look for if you believe you’re having ac compressor issues is a tripped breaker. If your circuit breaker is hot or constantly tripping, it’s best to let a professional HVAC technician come out and inspect the problem. 

We provide more information here: breaker keeps tripping on AC.

AC Compressor Isn’t Working, But Condenser Fan is Running

air conditioner compressor not turning on

If your ac compressor is not working, but the condenser fan is running, there could be several reasons for this. This does not necessarily mean you need a new unit when this happens. Listed below are several warning signs that your ac compressor is not working correctly.

AC Compressor Shuts Down for Safety Reasons

When the air conditioner is working extra hard to cool your home, your ac compressor is probably running non-stop. When your ac compressor is constantly running, this causes the system to overheat, which will trigger the pressure switches to shut the unit down. While this safety function can be annoying in the warmer months, it can benefit you in the long run. 

Dirty Air Filter

If you suspect your ac compressor isn’t working, check the ac filters. Clogged or dirty air filters restrict air flow and keep the evaporator coils from working properly.

When the compressor’s evaporator coils aren’t working, it traps the cold around the coils, which can cause the unit to freeze. When your unit freezes, the levels drop so low that the low-pressure switch is triggered and shuts down the ac unit. If you continue to have issues with the ac condensers, call the experts at Pioneer Comfort Systems today. 

Dirty Condenser Coil

AC condenser coils are important. When the condenser coils are functioning correctly, they take the heat from your home and transfer it outside.

Since the condenser coils are located within the outdoor unit, they are more susceptible to accumulating dirt and build-up from the elements. If the condenser coils are dirty and cannot expel the heat, it gets trapped within the unit and can cause the ac unit to overheat and shut down. This is easy to visually inspect and fairly simple to handle.

Before cleaning the condenser coils, you will want to ensure the power supply is cut off to the outside unit. Cleaning the condenser coils can be cleaned by a shop vac or by running a fin comb down the coils. You can also remove the metal cage and spray it with a hose. A trained HVAC technician can handle it if you feel uncomfortable doing this yourself.

Incorrect Refrigerant Levels

The refrigerant levels in your ac unit must be just right, so your compressor works correctly. You can’t have too much refrigerant or too little refrigerant. If there isn’t enough refrigerant fluid, that can mean there is a leak somewhere in the refrigerant line. If you have too much refrigerant, it may not be charged correctly. If your home’s refrigerant levels are incorrect, the pressure switch will be triggered, and your unit will shut off. If you suspect your compressor issues lie with the refrigerant, it’s best to call a licensed technician since it’s considered a hazardous material. 

Electrical Problems Within the Air Conditioning Unit

If the fan continues running, but the ac compressor won’t turn on, this can mean that the ac unit is receiving power, but the ac compressor isn’t. Sometimes electrical problems can mean a blown fuse or tripped breaker. Call a licensed HVAC technician in Shreveport if you believe that the ac compressor issue is electrical. Attempting to correct any electrical repairs yourself can have dangerous results. 

Faulty Capacitor

If the compressor is the heart of the HVAC system, then the capacitor is the brain. The capacitor powers the compressor, blower motor, and outer fan. If the unit is experiencing electrical surges or otherwise failing, this can cause the capacitor to stop working. If you hear a humming sound coming from the unit, this can mean that the compressor is trying to access a faulty capacitor. Luckily the capacitor is relatively inexpensive to replace but should be handled by a licensed tech. 

Incorrect Thermostat Settings or Bad Wiring

Sometimes the issue may not lie within the HVAC unit and can result from a faulty thermostat. If your thermostat is unable to tell the air conditioner to cool, this can mean that the thermostat was not installed correctly or was bumped really hard. You will also want to check the thermostat’s batteries, wiring, and thermostat settings.

Is My AC Compressor Broken?

ac compressor not cutting on

Depending on how major the ac compressors repairs are going to be will determine whether you repair or replace the entire air conditioning system. It’s important to pay attention to the warning signs that your ac compressor is going out. The sooner you can spot the problem, the better, which may not mean a total compressor replacement. 

Winding Problems in the AC Unit Motor

Windings are coils of wires in your compressor motor that power the actual motor. Part or all of the motor will stop working when a wire malfunctions. If the motor has a winding problem, it can often mean a total motor replacement because the compressor motor’s seal is airtight and watertight. If the motor is not sealed shut, it can be rewound, which can be costly. Often it’s best just to replace the motor when this happens. When dealing with any problems related to the ac unit motor, it’s best to contact someone with electrical knowledge. 

Open Windings

An open winding is caused by a break in the wires that prevent the electricity from getting through. When you have open windings, all or part of your condenser motor will stop functioning.

Grounded Windings

When windings come in contact with the motor frame or core, this is typically due to a loose wire. This grounds the circuit and results in either partial or total motor failure. 

Shorted Windings

A short occurs when two wires overlap, which prevents the motor from working correctly. When the unit overheats or suffers from a power surge, this can also cause a short. Motor vibrations can also lead to shorts over time. 

Air Conditioner Compressor is Stuck

When there’s an issue with the entire ac system, this can cause the ac compressors not to turn on at all. As the ac compressor tries to turn on, this can draw a large amount of energy. When the energy levels get too high, this can cause the compressor to stop automatically or get stuck. While the compressor continues to try to start and fail, it will continually draw large amounts of electricity, which will cause the unit to overheat.

You should be able to hear the compressor trying to start, and you should also feel the heat radiating from the compressor. When your compressor is stuck, sometimes the solution can be temporary, but the problem can always come back. When you’re experiencing a stuck compressor unit, it’s usually best to replace it. 

How Much Does it Cost to Replace an AC Compressor?

ac compressor not working

Many factors can affect the cost of an ac compressor. An HVAC technician will evaluate the cooling capacity of your compressor, the type of compressor, and the brand before determining the cost of the compressor. Prices for compressors can start around $500 and go up to $2,000.

If you also need it installed, that can cost up to $3,000. If your unit is not under warranty, you will want to consider replacing the entire outside unit. If it’s older than five years, your unit will not be working efficiently or being reliable. Replacing the entire unit can also save you money on your electric bills. 

How Can I Prevent Air Conditioner Problems?

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Many air conditioner problems stem from not conducting regular maintenance of your AC unit. If you start to notice a problem, it’s always best to have a licensed technician come out and take a look before the problem grows into a larger one. You can easily maintain your unit by checking the ac filters regularly. Clogged filters can result in a damaged compressor, so check those every couple of months. Changing your air filters regularly can also save you money on your electric bill. When you call Pioneer Comfort Systems, a licensed HVAC tech will check the refrigerant levels, clean the condenser coils, check for leaks, and more. Performing routine maintenance on your HVAC unit saves you time and money in the long run. 

Call Pioneer Comfort Systems for All of Your North LA HVAC Needs

If you believe you have an AC compressor issue, don’t sweat. Our HVAC service professionals will evaluate your system and find the problem the first time to keep you cool. At Pioneer Comfort Systems, we service Shreveport, Bossier, and the surrounding areas. Contact us online by leaving a comment or calling us at 318-378-5729.