The air conditioner in your home is an extremely complex piece of machinery that consists of many moving and stationary parts. Working in tandem, together as a whole, they make your home cool and comfortable. One very critical component of the AC is the “Compressor”. In a nutshell, until the compressor works, your house will not cool. So, today, we shall try and learn more about the compressor and, more importantly, what it does in the air conditioner.
Where Is The Compressor Located?
In a split air conditioner, which is the most commonly found air conditioner in homes, the compressor is located inside the outdoor unit. The outdoor unit is also known as the condenser unit. It is usually found at the back or on the side of the home.
What Does Air Conditioner Compressor Do?
In order to learn about the compressor’s function, one first needs to know more about the cooling process and all that it entails. The AC cools your home by extracting heat from the air and sending it over the cold evaporator coil to cool it even further. This cold air is then circulated throughout the home. The liquid refrigerant in the evaporator coil cools the air and changes into a gas. The gas is then carried out to the condenser coils, where it once again changes form and becomes liquid. This cycle is repeated continuously.
Now let us see what function the compressor performs in this cooling process. The compressor performs the vital task of carrying the refrigerant between the two sets of coils and changing its form as needed. It is powered by a motor to perform this crucial function. When the motor runs, the compressor transforms the refrigerant into a high-pressure gas, which is forced into the condenser coils where it releases heat and becomes liquid. Post condensation, the liquid refrigerant is again redirected into the evaporator coils to absorb heat, and the cycle continues.
Types Of Compressors
There are usually two types of compressors used in an AC. These are:
1. The Reciprocating Compressor – The reciprocating compressor has a motor like any vehicle. It has both a piston and a cylinder. There is an external source of power that compresses the refrigerant enclosed in the cylinder. This compressor can be open type, semi-hermetically sealed, or hermetically sealed.
2. The Scroll Type Compressor – The scroll-type compressor consists of two entwined scrolls or tubes enclosed in a casing. One of the tubes is stationary or fixed, while the second one orbits around the fixed tube. Together the two scrolls provide compression. The shape of these scrolls may incorporate a hybrid curve, an Archimedean spiral, or an involute.
Maintenance Of Compressor
Since the compressor is such an integral part of the cooling system, it requires proper and timely maintenance. Nonetheless, it is not a task to be undertaken by the homeowner. Only an HVAC technician can carry out proper tune-up of the compressor. The technician will inspect it for any apparent damage or fault. He will also ensure that the compressor pads are in top shape so that there are no electrical issues. Ideally, the compressor maintenance is done at the same time when you schedule the maintenance of the air conditioner. The best time for its maintenance is the spring season.
The AC compressor has many moving parts. Due to continuous use, wear and tear of these parts are but natural. As a result, compressor problems are also common. Timely annual maintenance is one way to minimize their occurrence. Yet sometimes, in spite of all due care, they still arise. Some common compressor malfunctions are:
1. Noises Coming From The AC – Banging and clanking noises can be heard when there is a loose or broken part in the compressor. Hissing and bubbling sounds are heard when there is a coolant or refrigerant leak.
2. Hard Starting – “Hard starting” refers to the situation where the compressor struggles to cycle on or off, as it ideally should. Typically, this happens when there is some electrical fault in the compressor.
3. Insufficient Cooling – Sometimes, the compressor problems manifest themselves in the form of reduced cooling. So for the same temperature setting, your home still feels warm.
Repairing The Compressor
When the compressor malfunctions, you have just two options – repair or replacement. Though the options are limited, yet the correct guidance can only be given by the HVAC technician. It is because what you assume to be a compressor problem may not necessarily be so. It could be a fault elsewhere in the unit. The technician will first carry out a thorough inspection of your heating and cooling system and then advise on the best course of action. Depending on the gravity of the problem, the age of your system, and possible repair options, the technician will give you the best recommendation.
Tips To Keep The Compressor Healthy
Couple of things that every homeowner can do to minimize compressor problems are:
1. Ensure regular annual maintenance of the AC.
2. Change the air filters every month.
3. Maintain basic cleanliness around the outdoor unit.
4. Never ignore any unusual sounds or happenings in context to the AC.
5. Only allow a trained technician to carry out repairs and maintenance on the AC.
Before We Close
The compressor is the very heart of the cooling system installed in your home. It performs the important work of compressing the refrigerant so that the AC can cool your house desirably. In the event that there is a suspected problem with the compressor in particular or AC in general, only allow a professional technician to inspect it and carry out repairs.
If your AC is acting up and you think it may be a compressor issue, call the air experts at Aztil Air Conditioning. Our team of elite technicians is professionally trained to conduct repairs and maintenance of your HVAC. To book an appointment, call us at +1-888-729-8452.