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Touchstone Heating & Air Inc. Blog

If the AC’s Compressor Fails, Do I Need to Get a New AC?


You may have heard that a failed compressor in a central air conditioning system means the whole system needs to be replaced. Compressors are critical for an AC’s operation—they’re responsible for circulating refrigerant and putting it under pressure so it can move heat out of the home and cool the air. Compressors are also large and powerful components that are expensive to replace. Since compressors often fail in older AC’s, it makes sense to replace the AC rather than pay just to replace the compressor.

However, a failed compressor doesn’t automatically mean a central air conditioner must be replaced. Not in all situations. Below we’ll look at four different outcomes for a failed compressor. This can help you make the choice about whether to have an AC replacement or an air conditioning repair in Lake City, FL, but please consult with our HVAC professionals to help you make the final decision.

ONE: Replace only the compressor

The big question: Is the compressor still under warranty? If it is, then the cost to have the compressor replaced is far lower. Under most warranties, you’ll have to pay for labor but not parts. In most situations where the compressor is still under warranty, it is best to replace only the compressor. 

TWO: Replace the condenser

Not many homeowners go for this option, but it’s still a viable one under certain circumstances. Replacing the condenser means replacing the entire outdoor unit of the central air conditioner: the compressor, the condenser coil, the exhaust fan, and several other components. This costs less than replacing the entire air conditioner, but it has two downsides. One, it doesn’t come with a new warranty. Two, it may result in a mismatch between the indoor and outdoor units, resulting in a drop in system energy efficiency. 

THREE: Replace the air conditioner

If the compressor isn’t under warranty, this is often the best choice. To replace the air conditioner means replacing both the condenser unit and the indoor evaporator coil. This gives a home a fresh start with its AC and comes with a new warranty. It’s also an opportunity to upgrade to a high-efficiency air conditioning system with special features. If the AC is an older one that uses R-22 refrigerant (which has been phased out) then this full replacement is necessary. 

FOUR: Replace the HVAC system

There’s one step beyond replacing the air conditioner when the compressor dies, and that’s replacing the entire HVAC system: the AC, the heater, and the indoor blower. If the house has an aging heating system (more than 15 years), then this is a good option, as it allows for a full upgrade for the home’s comfort system all at once. Obviously, this is the most expensive choice, but if the circumstances are right it will have the best long-term outcome. 

You can trust our HVAC professionals to help you make the right choice when it comes to a failed compressor. 

Call Touchstone Heating and Air Inc 24/7 for exceptional customer service! We’ve served the communities of North Central Florida since 1998.

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