HVAC Repair Tips


A compressor is a critical part of an HVAC system. Any problem with it will cause insufficient or no cooling (or heating). So, if your air conditioner is showing problems, you should look for these signs that hint at a bad compressor. Keep in mind that compressor-related issues should only be fixed by authorized HVAC companies.

Signs Of A Bad HVAC Compressor

No Or Poor Airflow

As the compressor plays its part in regulating airflow, if it doesn’t function properly, the airflow is affected. In the early stages, you will notice weak airflow, and over time, due to ignoring that issue, the compressor’s performance will keep deteriorating and there will come a time when you won’t notice airflow at all.

So, you should take action when you feel poor airflow. However, keep in mind that weak airflow can be caused by various other problems as well. It could be dirty air filters, blocked vents, obstructed vents, air duct leakage, blower fan failure, and others.

Some of these problems are easier to fix like you can clean or replace air filters yourself. Similarly, you can also check for blocked vents. However, as you might not know the cause of the problem, it’s better to have an expert inspect your unit so that if the issue is related to the compressor, it’s fixed in the early stage.

No Cooling

The compressor creates pressure in the coils so the refrigerant moves inside them leading to cooling (or heating). When a compressor starts malfunctioning, it won’t create the pressure properly. This will lead to less cooling. Similarly, if the compressor has failed, you won’t feel cool air at all. You would either feel warm air coming from the vents or no airflow.

But you should not worry if your air conditioner is not cooling because this issue can also be caused by various problems such as dirty air filters, ignoring AC maintenance, dirty unit (condenser and air handler unit), air duct leakage, blocked vents, bad thermostat, low refrigerant, and many others.

So, if your HVAC unit is not cooling, take it as a wake-up call and hire a professional to inspect your air conditioner.

Unusual Noises From The Condenser Unit

The condenser unit or the outdoor unit houses the compressor with other components like the condenser coils and the fan. The fan makes its usual noise during operation. Moreover, the compressor sounds like humming when it’s working normally. However, if you hear some other noises, they mean trouble.

The first one is a clicking or chattering noise. Hearing this noise when the compressor turns on or off shows that the compressor is having problems in turning on and off. So, don’t ignore this noise. It’s usually due to an electrical problem. There may be a bad relay switch.

The second noise is a rattling or clunking sound. If you hear this noise from the condenser unit when the compressor turns on, it means the motor mounts are loose. These are for keeping the motor firmly in its place. So, when they become loose, the compressor’s vibration makes a rattling noise. However, a rattling noise is also common when something obstructs the fan blades.

The former noise is easier to fix than the latter mentioned above. In any case, you have to take it to an expert who can check the condenser unit and the compressor.

The Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

Circuit breakers are the switches on the breaker box installed in your home. The breaker box is usually located in the garage or anywhere similar. A small part of the house’s electrical supply is controlled by one circuit breaker. So, in case of overload or any other issue, the circuit breaker would trip, effectively turning off electricity to that part of the house. This ensures safety and avoids electrical fires or explosions.

If a circuit breaker trips once, it’s not anything to worry about. But if it begins to trip regularly, it hints at a problem. Maybe you’re using many appliances at the same time or the air conditioner’s compressor is malfunctioning. So, notice when the circuit breaker trips. If it always trips when you turn on the air conditioner or when the compressor tries to kick in, then the AC is the culprit.

It’s better if you don’t turn on the AC if the circuit breaker has been tripping regularly and immediately call in an HVAC expert.

The Unit Vibrates When It Turns On

Usually, the unit doesn’t make any noise when it turns on apart from a one-time clicking noise and then, a constant humming noise. However, if you see that your unit vibrates or shakes when it turns on, it means that the compressor or any other component is faulty.

This vibration could be due to loose mounts as mentioned above, or it can also be something else. So, you should not ignore this sign and consult an expert.

The Condenser Unit Overheats

An overheating condenser unit is a serious problem because it usually means that either the compressor or the fan motor is failing. Overheating should not be ignored because it can lead to a fire as well.

Most of the time, when an HVAC unit overheats, the circuit breaker trips and cuts power to the unit. This way, you’re safe and only need to contact an expert. However, if your AC doesn’t turns off or the circuit breaker doesn’t trip, you have to shut it down before calling in a professional.

Puddles Of Water Near The Unit (Refrigerant leakage)

It may sound like two signs but it’s one. Puddles of water are produced when there is refrigerant leakage (or a blocked drain).

Condensation is common in HVAC units and it dries up itself or goes through the drain line to reach the drain without causing any trouble. However, if the drain line is blocked, there will be water leakage. But if the drain line is clear and there are puddles of water near the outdoor unit or the indoor unit, then it’s highly likely that the refrigerant of your unit is leaking.

Keep in mind that the compressor pushes the refrigerant in the coils. So, when there is less refrigerant due to a leakage, the compressor will overwork and with time, it will fail.

However, there are many signs of refrigerant leakage you can notice before your compressor fails. Look for reduced cooling, frozen evaporator coils, hissing noise from the air handler unit or the condenser unit, long cooling cycles, increased humidity, and others.

You must consult an expert who can check the unit for leakage, find the location of the refrigerant leakage, repair the cracks or holes, refill the refrigerant, and also check the condition of the compressor.

Should You Replace The Compressor?

If your compressor is bad, should you replace the compressor or the entire unit? This depends on how old your HVAC system is. If it’s older than 20 years, replace the unit. But if the HVAC system is newer (less than 10 years), go ahead with a compressor replacement.


Do you want to know if your compressor is failing? Look for signs like rattling or clicking noise, water leakage, overheating, tripped circuit breaker, and others. Get in touch with AC repair services Chantilly for inspections, repairs, or replacements.


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