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Premier Heating & Air Blog

Watch for These Signs of an AC Compressor in Trouble


All the parts of a central air conditioning system are important, but the compressor is at the top of the pyramid. Not only can an air conditioner not do its job with a failed compressor, but the end of a compressor’s lifespan often is the end of the whole air conditioner’s lifespan. This is because compressors are expensive components to replace, and it’s often more cost-effective to get a new AC if a compressor is no longer under warranty. 

However, if you know what to look and listen for, you can sometimes catch a dying compressor early and arrange to have expert technicians fix it. Below we’ve listed several of the warning signs of compressor troubles. Don’t hesitate to call us for repairs: the problem may not end up being the compressor, but you’ll still be glad you had professionals investigating early. You’ll have a much lower chance of getting caught with no cooling in your house during the summer. 

Noises from the condenser

The condenser is the outdoor cabinet of a split system air conditioner; it’s where the compressor is housed. We recommend making occasional checks on the condenser when the AC is running so you can catch problems such as strange noises. A compressor that’s in danger of failing will start to make a clicking noise at startup, warning that it is struggling to start its normal cycle.

Higher humidity indoors

When an AC runs normally, it absorbs moisture from the air through the indoor coil as part of the cooling process. When the compressor begins to have problems circulating enough refrigerant, the AC will remove less moisture from the air and lead to a rise in indoor humidity. 

Warm air from the vents

We mentioned the humidity increase first because you’re most likely to notice it before you detect a drop in cooling power from the AC due to a failing compressor. When you detect humidity problems, check the vents to see if the air from them is warmer than normal. There are several possible causes for this, and whether it’s the compressor or not, you’ll want technicians to look at it soon.

Tripped circuit breakers

The compressor uses large amounts of electricity to run (more than almost any appliance in a home), so if it starts to overheat it may trip its circuit breaker. A single tripped breaker may be a fluke, but if it keeps occurring, call for repair technicians ASAP.

Visible vibrations from the condenser

The condenser cabinet will vibrate when the compressor and fan run, but you should only notice it if you put your hand on the cabinet. If you can see the cabinet vibrating, you either have a problem with the fan or with the compressor. Shut off the AC right away and summon professional help. 

You can rely on our technicians for great air conditioning repair in Decatur, GA, and throughout South Metro Atlanta. We offer guaranteed same-day service, so never hesitate to call us when you need cooling help for your home. 

Experience the Premier Difference! Premier Heating & Air has been family-owned and operated since 2001.

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