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Preventing 3 Causes of Air Conditioner Compressor Failure

The compressor lies at the heart of a residential air conditioning system’s condenser unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the refrigerant flowing back from the evaporator coil inside your home, thus promoting a more effective release of heat once the refrigerant flows into the condenser coil.

Air conditioning compressors are built to withstand the demands of regular use. Unfortunately, they may still be liable to fail if not serviced and maintained in the right way. If you would like to learn more about how to avoid the expense and inconvenience of a compressor burn-out, read on. This article will outline three sources of compressor failure you can prevent through regular inspections and servicing.

1. Dirty Condenser Coils

An air conditioner’s compressor can be found just upstream of the condenser coil. By raising the refrigerant’s pressure – and thus its temperature – the condenser promotes a more effective release of heat inside of the condenser coil. In a well-working system, the combination of compressor and condenser promotes maximum cooling by reducing the refrigerant’s temperature as far as possible.

Over time, the condenser coil will accumulate a layer of unwanted substances, such as mineral scale, dirt, and grime. The thicker this layer grows, the more it will impede the proper functioning of the coil by preventing the transfer of heat from the refrigerant to the air around the condenser.

Ultimately, a dirty coil reduces the efficiency of the entire system, which drives up your monthly cooling bill. Worse still, a dirty condenser coil also increases the risk of compressor failure by requiring it to run more frequently. Eventually, this will cause the compressor’s motor to blow out, or one of its many internal components to become critically damaged.
The easiest way to avoid unwanted compressor problems is to hire a professional contractor to clean your condenser coils on a regular basis. A clean coil promotes better heat transfer, thus lowering the demands placed on your air conditioner’s compressor.

2. Restricted Suction Line

Gaseous refrigerant flows from the evaporator coil in your home to the compressor in your backyard condensing unit through a refrigerant line commonly referred to as the suction line. Compressor problems often stem from restrictions within the suction line. Such restrictions starve the compressor of refrigerant, causing it to run longer and perform less efficiently.

A suction line restriction means the compressor won’t receive the necessary amounts of refrigerant. The refrigerant flowing into the condenser will thus possess a lower pressure than it should, since the compressor simply doesn’t have the necessary amount of refrigerant to ensure proper pressurization.

Suction line restrictions often stem from problems with the suction filters located just downstream of the evaporator coil. By having your system’s filters inspected and replaced regularly, you can easily avoid this type of restriction, extending the lifespan of your compressor in the process.

3. Incorrect Suction Line Sizing

Even an unrestricted suction line can lead to problems if it hasn’t been properly sized for your system. The size of your suction lines – as well as the liquid lines that lead from condenser to evaporator coil – determine to a large extent how well your system will perform. If the line size happens to be too small, the phenomenon known as pressure drop will ensue.

Pressure drop unintentionally restricts refrigerant flow, leading to operating pressures that are lower than they should be at certain points in your system. An excessively large suction line can also cause problems. For one thing, an oversized line will reduce the velocity of the refrigerant, often throwing off system performance in the process.

An oversized line can also allow potentially damaging amounts of refrigerant to enter the compressor. Subjecting a compressor to more refrigerant than it has been designed to handle will soon cause its failure. The ideal size of your refrigerant lines must be carefully determined by a trained HVAC professional.

For more information about how to prolong the service life of your air conditioner’s compressor, please don’t hesitate to contact the home cooling professionals at Alabama Climate Control Inc.

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