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Touchstone Heating & Air Inc. Blog

Signs of a Failing Compressor in an AC


The compressor is the literal heart of the AC: it’s what makes refrigerant circulate through the system and go through the process of evaporating and condensing. It’s an extremely powerful component that uses more electricity than any other part of the AC—from 35,000 to 41,000 watts per hour. It’s also an expensive piece to replace if it fails. Homeowners often find it more cost-effective to replace the entire air conditioning system in the case of the burnt-out compressor.

We want to help you avoid running into a problem because of a failed compressor. If you call for AC repair in Madison, FL in time, we can sometimes rescue the compressor and keep your AC working for several more years. 

Below are some warning signs of a compressor that’s failing.

The condenser cabinet is visibly vibrating

When you put your hand on the outdoor condenser when the AC is running, you’ll feel the vibration of the compressor at work. This is normal. What’s not normal is when you can see the condenser vibrating. This often means the compressor is hard starting or consuming too much power as it runs, which occurs before the compressor fails completely.

Loud or odd noises from the condenser

When you’re outside and near the condenser, have you noticed that it makes more noise than usual? The condenser shouldn’t make much more than a humming sound as the compressor runs and a few clicks when the unit powers down. If you hear sounds like sound buzzing, rattling, grinding, and mechanical shrieking, we recommend you shut off the AC at its main switch (usually located under a cover near the condenser) and call us for repairs ASAP.

The air conditioner is often tripping the circuit breaker

The two parts of the AC most likely to trip the circuit breaker with an overload are the indoor blower motor and the compressor. If the AC tripping the circuit breaker is turning into a routine issue, it’s a warning that some part of the AC is overheating and drawing on too much power—and the compressor is a prime culprit! Don’t attempt to keep running the air conditioner: leave it off and call us for help. 

Decline in cooling / rise in humidity

If the air conditioner seems like it’s running normally, but your house feels warmer than normal and/or you’ve noticed higher levels of humidity, you may have a failing compressor that isn’t able to circulate enough refrigerant for the AC to work effectively. You may notice the humidity problem before the climate issue. 

Compressor struggles to turn on

This is the hard starting we mentioned earlier. It occurs when the compressor works harder than it should to start and needs to draw on more electricity to overcome resistance. If your AC has problems getting started, call us to look at the unit. We can add a hard start kit that provides the extra power necessary to get the compressor going without creating the strain that can lead to it failing.

Call Touchstone Heating and Air 24/7 for exceptional customer service! Serving the communities of North Central Florida since 1998.

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