6 Common Causes of AC Compressor Failure

The compressor of your air conditioner is one of its most important components. In fact, it can rightly be called the heart of your AC. This is because the compressor is responsible for compressing the refrigerant inside the AC. The refrigerant then absorbs the heat and humidity from the air, resulting in cool and dry indoor air.

The AC compressor is a fairly reliable component but it can malfunction. In most cases, it malfunctions because of another related problem. The good news is that if you can troubleshoot the related problem in time, you may be able to avoid a compressor failure. This is highly desirable as replacing a compressor is quite expensive and you may want to avoid it if you can.

To preempt a possible compressor failure, it is important to understand the common causes that typically lead to such a failure. Our Greenville HVAC experts will take a look at these.

Low Refrigerant Level

The compressor needs a certain level of refrigerant in the AC to function properly. However, the refrigerant levels may decline due to leaks, holes or cracks in the coil. This then forces the compressor to exert more in order to achieve the same amount of cooling. As the refrigerant levels decline further, the compressor has to work harder and harder. This ultimately leads the compressor to develop problems and eventually results in failure altogether. You can avoid this by identifying low refrigerant levels in time and remedying the problem.

High Refrigerant Level

Low refrigerant levels affect compressor performance but on the flipside, if the refrigerant levels are too high, this can also create issues for the AC unit. Higher refrigerant levels build up an above-normal pressure on the compressor. When maintained for a long time, such high pressure will lead to compressor failure while also causing damage to other AC components.

Electrical Issues

Problems with the electrical circuitry such as damaged wiring and faulty fuses can lead to electrical failures in an AC. When this happens, it often ends up causing damage to various AC components, including the compressor. The problem is avoidable if you have your AC routinely checked by a professional who will identify and resolve these problems before they lead to a failure. This is particularly important because when an electrical failure does occur, the damage from it can lead to expensive repairs and replacements.


The refrigerant lines or coils of your AC unit can become clogged for a variety of reasons. When this happens, the refrigerant is unable to circulate properly through the lines. This creates a greater pressure on the compressor as well as overheating. If the blockage is not resolved soon enough, the increased pressure can finally lead to compressor failure. A quick and easy way to identify blocked refrigerant lines is when you experience insufficient AC cooling.


The outdoor unit of your AC is exposed to the air outside. As a result, contaminants from the outdoor air can find their way into the AC. These contaminants can eventually clog the compressor and prevent it from functioning properly. You will typically notice a clear difference in the AC’s performance when this occurs. A timely cleanup by a technician will help the compressor avoid a complete and expensive breakdown.

Clogged Coils

The condenser coils play a key role in cooling the air processed through your AC unit. Over time, dust, dirt and other forms of debris can become lodged on the coils. The air conditioner then has to exert more to achieve the same amount of cooling. The increased pressure on the AC and on the compressor as a result, will ultimately cause a compressor breakdown. This problem is easily avoidable by doing a routine check on the coils and making sure there is no buildup of debris.

Hiring Greenville Heating and Air Experts

If your AC compressor is not functioning properly or won’t turn on at all, it is important to have a technician look at it. It is best to avoid a compressor failure in the first place but when it does happen, only a qualified professional can troubleshoot the problem and resolve it.

Here at General Air, we have handled the HVAC needs of HVAC businesses and homeowners for many years. Whether your compressor has a minor problem or a serious issue, and whether it can be repaired or needs a replacement, we have got you covered. Our technicians are fully equipped to troubleshoot and resolve all compressor issues. Contact us today to consult our technicians and get a quote for our services.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit