What-Does-an-Air-Conditioning-Compressor-Do

What Does an Air Conditioning Compressor Do?

Air conditioners are a modern technology marvel. Without them, Sarasota’s summers would be nothing short of unbearable. At the heart of your air conditioning system is the compressor, a relatively small device that plays a big role in keeping your home cool and comfortable year-round.

Compressor Basics

Think of the compressor as the air conditioner’s heart, literally. Just as your heart pumps blood to wherever your body needs it, the compressor helps circulate refrigerant throughout the AC system. Every AC system uses one, whether it’s a traditional central AC unit, a ductless mini-split system or a window-mounted unit. Unless you’re using a window-mounted or portable AC unit, you’ll find the compressor nestled within the outdoor condenser unit.

Your heart has valves and muscles to help push blood where it needs to go. Your home’s AC compressor has a motor and a cylinder with a piston or a scroll inside. However, the compressor does things a bit differently than the human heart.

As refrigerant passes through the compressor in a gaseous state, the compressor essentially squeezes it enough that it goes from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure gas. The compressor pushes this high-pressure gas to the condenser, where the refrigerant’s latent heat is released. This causes the high-pressure gas to revert to a liquid state.

The refrigerant travels to the evaporator located inside your home, where it collects the latent heat from your home and subsequently changes back into a low-pressure gas. The cycle repeats as soon as the low-pressure gas reaches the compressor once more.

What If the Compressor Fails?

It’s not often that a compressor fails, but it could be a rather expensive and time-consuming problem if and when it does happen. Common signs of impending compressor failure include:

  • Strange noises coming from the condenser unit. You may hear a loud growl or bang on startup, indicating that the unit is having hard starts that could damage the unit as time goes on. Hissing sounds can indicate a refrigerant leak.
  • Constant power losses caused by a tripped circuit breaker. This could indicate the compressor is drawing too much power due to overheating or an electrical issue.
  • Heavy frost or ice buildup on the evaporator or condenser coils, which could also be caused by ongoing refrigerant loss.
  • Little to no airflow or warm air when the compressor is supposedly working.

Your best bet is to have the entire AC system replaced, especially if your system is more than 10 years old. You may have an easier time of replacing the compressor if your AC system is still under warranty.

Airrific Air Conditioning and Heating specializes in AC installation all over the Sarasota area and Manatee County. Contact us today and see for yourself what over 25 years of experience can do to keep your home cool and comfortable this season.

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