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Setting aside some money for air conditioner maintenance comes with the territory of owning an HVAC system, but you shouldn’t spend more than necessary. To get the most value for your money when it comes to HVAC service and repairs, it helps to know something about the way your system works so that you can protect its most valuable components. One such part is the compressor in your cooling system, which is one of the most important parts of the entire apparatus. Protecting your compressor and treating it right can ensure a healthy system with a long life, whereas neglecting it can prove extraordinarily expensive.

Compressors 101

Air Conditioning Repair

Before we do anything else, let’s talk about what a compressor does and why it’s a must for your HVAC. Your HVAC can’t function without a working compressor, but despite this fact, compressors are often misunderstood—even by some HVAC technicians.

Your compressor is the part of your air conditioner responsible for squeezing the refrigerant in your system and raising its pressure. This fluid is later converted to a liquid via the condenser, after which it flows into the evaporator. In the evaporator, the liquid loses pressure, changing back into a gas and taking heat from out of the surrounding air. This is the process by which your cooling system lowers the temperature in your home, which means that without a compressor, you don’t have a working cooling unit.

Common Compressor Problems

Your compressor is essential, and it isn’t indestructible. In fact, your compressor is vulnerable to a variety of problems that can crop up with neglect or improper care. Let’s look at some of the ways in which your compressor can fail so that you can prevent them from occurring:

Dirty Coils

Dirty coils prevent your unit from sending heat out of the system sufficiently, which raises temperatures and causes your compressor to get too hot. It also causes pressure to build up. Either of these factors can make your compressor fail.

Not Enough Refrigerant

The less refrigerant your system has, the harder your compressor has to work to squeeze it and pump it into the condenser. This work can wear your compressor out prematurely, causing it to require replacement far sooner than usually necessary. Conversely, too much refrigerant can also threaten your compressor, so it’s crucial to have your refrigerant levels checked whenever you have maintenance done on your system to avoid air conditioning compressor repair..

Acid Buildup

Acid can form in your system as the result of a variety of electrical problems. This can wreak havoc with your entire system, including—but certainly not limited to—the compressor. Routine inspections are the best way to prevent the electrical problems responsible for acid.

Buildup in the Outdoor Unit or Ductwork

Making sure debris stays out of your system helps keep the air circulating in your system fresh, but it’s also crucial for compressor health. Outdoor units, especially in high-density urban areas, are prone to become clogged by all kinds of contaminants, such as soot, dust, or insects. This reduces the airflow, causing pressure buildup which threatens your compressor.

How to Keep Your Compressor Safe

There are plenty of other things that can adversely affect your compressor, so it’s best to take a proactive approach to your system maintenance. Regular replacement of air filters will help prevent buildup in your outdoor units and keep the pressure in your system low, while regular preventative maintenance from a qualified HVAC technician will ensure that your coils stay clean, your refrigerant levels are balanced, and your electrical parts operate properly.

Your system should be checked out by a professional at least once a year, but many HVAC owners find that service twice a year is worth the investment to make sure your system remains safe. To offset the costs of inspections, consider asking your contractor about a package or plan for regular service. Often, contractors will give you a discount for your long-term business, which helps you find the support you need to keep your compressor in good shape at a more affordable rate.

The Costs of Compressor Replacement

Paying for maintenance isn’t anyone’s favorite part of owning an HVAC, but it’s cheaper than replacing your compressor on a regular basis. Spending a few hundred dollars once or twice a year for qualified service is easier to budget for than having to spend thousands unexpectedly every couple of years when your compressor fails, and that’s assuming the neglect that caused your compressor failure didn’t result in damage to anything else.


Your compressor should be considered the heart of your cooling system and treated as such. Take good care of it, and it will make sure that your HVAC can take good care of you in all kinds of weather for many years to come. Contact us for more information.