When Do You Need to Replace Your AC Compressor?

Your air conditioner’s compressor is a main component of your outside unit. If it breaks down, it is a major repair that comes with several big considerations. Many people believe that if your compressor breaks down, you need to replace your entire system. However, this is not always the case.

First, let’s go over a few signs that your AC compressor is failing, and then we can determine whether your compressor needs to be replaced or whether you should opt for a completely new system.

These are a few signs that your compressor is on its last legs:

  • Warm Air From Vents – A dying compressor cannot pump refrigerant adequately. If you are experiencing this symptom and no other, make sure your AC technician checks for a refrigerant leak to rule that out.
  • Vibrating Unit Upon Startup – Known as a hard start, this is typically something you see right before a complete compressor failure.
  • Frequently Tripping Breaker – A compressor that is having trouble starting is likely to trip a breaker. However, since there are many reasons your breaker could be tripping, it should really only be regarded as a sign in conjunction with other signs.
  • Rumbling Noise – This might indicate that an important component is loose within the motor.

Also, consider how old your AC unit is. If it is over 12 years old, a compressor failure is not unheard of. It is particularly likely if the unit is over 20 years old or has not had regular maintenance.

Which Should You Replace: Compressor or Entire Unit?

You should look into getting just a compressor replacement if that part is still under warranty. If you have already had multiple parts recently replaced, and your HVAC technician can give the rest of your system a clean bill of health, then a total replacement is probably not necessary. A circumstance that warrants a complete replacement is if the entire system is aging and won’t last very long. Two installations are going to be a bigger cost than having it done all in one go.

There are many other factors as well, so these considerations might be hard to determine by yourself. We’re here to help! Call us at 408-295-2182 to schedule a professional inspection.