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Mike Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC Blog

Compressor Problems: Repair or Replace?


The compressor is the heart of the air conditioner. It does the critical job of pumping the refrigerant throughout the entire system of evaporator and condenser coils, and your air conditioner can’t live without it just as you can’t live without your heart. Unfortunately, sometimes an air conditioner problem results in a broken compressor. What can you do then? Do you need a new AC unit?

We’ll talk you through the things most likely to cause compressor failure, what your options are once it’s happened, and some considerations to help you make the right choice about how to move forward.

Causes of Compressor Failure

A refrigerant leak—or more accurately, the insufficient level of refrigerant remaining because of a leak—is the top cause of compressor failure because it can overheat the compressor. A drop in cooling power, ice on the coils, and a hissing noise can all be signs of a refrigerant leak, so if you spot any of those, get central AC repair in West Monroe, LA right away.

Other possible sources of a compressor problem include overheating from dirty outdoor coils, lack of lubricant in the motor from not getting regular maintenance, increased pressure from a blocked suction line, or too much refrigerant as a result of amateur repairs.

Options When Your Compressor has Failed

The bottom line is that the compressor itself cannot be repaired. When it has failed, there are three possible approaches to getting your home properly cooled again. First, the compressor can be replaced. Second, the outdoor unit can be replaced. And third, the entire air conditioning system can be replaced. There are pros and cons to each of these, and depending on certain factors, any of them could be the best choice for you.

Replacing the Compressor

If your air conditioner is fairly new, and you’ve been diligent about your annual maintenance, it is probably still under warranty. Because compressor failure is rare in an air conditioner that’s just a few years old, which indicates that something may have been faulty from the beginning, there’s a good chance that the manufacturer will cover the cost of replacing the compressor. But in an older, poorly-maintained, or not-under-warranty air conditioner, the price of a compressor would be a poor investment when the rest of the system will not last many years longer.

Replacing the Outdoor Unit

This may be an option if your air conditioner is not very old and a qualified technician can help you find an outdoor unit that is a good match for the system. But a mismatch between the two can lead to more problems, so it shouldn’t be done without professional guidance.

Replacing the Air Conditioner

This may be the best investment if the system is aging. While it’s frustrating to have to replace a whole system because of one part failing, you can make sure your next air conditioner lives a longer, healthier life by ensuring that it is maintained every year. 

Contact Mike Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC. We provide “Professional grade service.”

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