5 Causes of Compressor Trouble

Compressors are essential to the function of an AC unit. They are responsible for cooling the refrigerant, which is how your AC cools the air. Compressors are extremely expensive to replace and it’s important to watch out for signs that they’re failing before they’re unusable. If you’re worried that your compressor is not working properly, check out our previous article on warning signs of compressor failure: 5 Signs Your Compressor is Failing!

In this article, we’ll look at a few of the reasons your compressor is having issues. This will give you more insight into the way compressors function and allow you to better understand how they can be fixed. 


  1. Low refrigerant– The unit may be low on refrigerant if the last technician didn’t charge it fully or there is a leak in the lines. The compressor will have to work harder to pump refrigerant through the lines, causing the compressor to overheat and eventually break down. A skilled technician can check for a leak, repair any holes, and charge the system with the right amount of refrigerant.
  2. Dirty coils– Dirt and grime builds up in the unit, especially on the condenser coil, making it hard for the system to expel heat. The unit has to keep running to expel the heat, which requires a lot of energy. Eventually, the pressure and temperature will result in overheating and a breakdown. A scheduled preventive maintenance program involves the cleaning of coils which can prevent this situation.
  3. Contamination– Compressors are built to only pump refrigerant. If any other substance contaminates the refrigerant, the compressor may break down. Common contaminants are oil, air, dirt, and moisture. 
  4. Blocked and damaged suction lines– The refrigerant lines in your system can become blocked and develop tears over time. This results in refrigerant leaks or blockage. The compressor will have to work harder to pump the refrigerant, overheating, and eventually breaking down.
  5. Bad valves– If the valves of a compressor are damaged or are not sealing, this may cause issues. The tricky part about bad valves is that they’re hard to diagnose or recognize by a non-technician because the compressor will usually continue to function and cool the air. The issue is that the compressor becomes inefficient and requires more and more energy to function. Bad valves are also an indication that the compressor will fail soon. 


All of these situations are preventable with a scheduled preventive maintenance program. Technicians clean and check the system to prevent issues before they can arise, extending the lifespan of your equipment and making sure the unit functions at full capacity. Call Sacramento CA’s Express Refrigeration today if your compressor is having any of these issues or you’re interested in setting up a preventive maintenance plan!