Are you sick of sweating through your clothes on scorching-hot summer days? If so, you’re probably a big fan of air conditioning. Unfortunately, when your AC compressor fails, you could be left sweating it out, and the repair cost can be an unwelcome surprise. So what exactly can kill your AC compressor? From simple wear and tear to system overuse, there are a number of factors that could be contributing to your AC compressor’s untimely death. Read on to learn more about what might be causing your cooling system’s compressor to shutdown so you can avoid a costly repair bill.

1. Introduction: Understanding the AC Compressor and Its Purpose

Understanding the AC compressor and its purpose is vital in knowing how to care for it and prevent its failure. The AC compressor is the heart of the air conditioning system and is responsible for compressing the refrigerant gas that cools down our homes and offices. It works by taking low-pressure gas from the evaporator and compressing it into high-pressure gas, which is then sent to the condenser for cooling.

The compressor is the most important component of the air conditioning system, as it plays a vital role in cooling the indoor air. Along with the evaporator and the condenser, the compressor completes the cooling cycle that keeps us comfortable in hot weather. Therefore, understanding how it works and what kills an AC compressor is essential in prolonging the life of your air conditioning system.

In the following sections, we will discuss the top causes of AC compressor failure, signs that your AC compressor is failing, how to prevent AC compressor failure, and replacing an AC compressor. By understanding these topics, you will be equipped to take care of your AC compressor for long-term use and comfortable living.

2. The Top Causes of AC Compressor Failure: Overheating and Lack of Maintenance

Your AC compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system. It compresses the refrigerant, which allows for heat exchange to cool your indoor space. But like any mechanical equipment, your AC compressor is susceptible to wear and tear, leading to potential failure. This section will cover the top causes of AC compressor failure, which are overheating and lack of maintenance.

Overheating: One of the most common reasons for AC compressor failure is overheating. This occurs when your AC system works too hard to cool your space beyond its capacity. Overheating can be caused by a variety of factors, such as low coolant levels, dirty coils, and clogged air filters. If not addressed in time, overheating will cause excessive stress on the AC compressor’s motor, which may lead to failure. Signs of overheating include unusual noises, warm air blowing from the vents, and an increase in energy bills.

Lack of Maintenance: Another major cause of AC compressor failure is a lack of maintenance. Your air conditioner‘s compressor needs regular maintenance to function correctly. This includes cleaning the coils, changing air filters, and inspecting refrigerant levels. Neglecting maintenance checks will cause an accumulation of dirt, dust, and debris, causing a strain on the compressor’s motor. Therefore, regular maintenance plays a vital role in prolonging the life of your AC compressor.

To avoid overheating and lack of maintenance leading to AC compressor failure, homeowners should schedule a yearly tune-up with a licensed HVAC technician. Professional maintenance checks provide an opportunity to catch potential problems before they escalate, ensuring that your AC compressor operates at its optimal efficiency. Keep in mind that regular maintenance checks can save you money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs or system replacements.

3. Signs That Your AC Compressor is Failing: Strange Noises, Warm Air, and Other Warning Signs

One of the worst things that can happen during a hot summer day is your AC system failing, leaving you with no choice but to endure the scorching heat. Unfortunately, that’s what may happen when your AC compressor starts to fail. But how do you know if your AC compressor is struggling? Look out for the following warning signs:

Strange noises
Your AC is designed to operate quietly, and any unusual noises coming from the system can indicate a problem. These noises might range from banging and clanging to hissing and screeching, but the underlying problem is usually the same – a failing AC compressor.

Warm air
If your AC system is blowing warm or hot air, then your compressor may be the culprit. This issue may arise due to various reasons, such as low refrigerant levels, a faulty thermostat, or a malfunction in the compressor itself. Nevertheless, it is crucial to address this issue as soon as possible since it will only get worse over time.

Other warning signs
Several other warning signs may indicate your AC compressor is starting to fail. These include:

  • Reduced cooling efficiency
  • Strange smells coming from the system
  • Tripping circuit breakers
  • Leaks around the compressor

Ignoring these symptoms of impending AC compressor failure can lead to more significant problems down the line. Therefore, if you notice any of these signs, it’s best to call an HVAC technician right away. They can diagnose the problem and provide you with the necessary repairs or replacements to get your system back in order.

4. How to Prevent AC Compressor Failure: Regular Maintenance and Knowing When to Call in a Professional

Prevent AC Compressor Failure with Regular Maintenance and Professional Help

Keeping your air conditioning system well-maintained is the best way to prevent any serious issues with the AC compressor. Here are some steps you can take to ensure proper maintenance:

1. Change the Air Filter

One of the simplest but most important steps of AC maintenance is to regularly replace or clean the air filter. If the filter is clogged, the compressor will have to work harder to maintain the temperature, leading to overheating and eventual failure. It is recommended to change the air filter every 1-3 months, depending on the frequency of use and the type of filter.

2. Keep the Outdoor Unit Clean

The outdoor unit of your air conditioner must be kept clean and free from debris, such as leaves, dirt, and grass clippings. This can be done by regularly trimming vegetation around the unit, hosing it down once or twice a year, and removing any obstructions. The outdoor unit has the compressor and is essential in proper AC operation.

3. Schedule Regular Maintenance Check-Ups

It is best to schedule regular maintenance check-ups with a licensed HVAC technician to ensure that your air conditioning system is running at its best. A professional technician can inspect and clean components that are inaccessible to the average homeowner and can also help identify any potential issues before they become serious.

Even with proper maintenance, AC compressor failure can still happen. In such cases, it is crucial to know when to call in a professional technician for repairs or replacement. Attempting to fix AC compressor problems on your own can be dangerous and put you at risk of damaging the entire AC system. Instead, rely on the expertise of a trained technician who can efficiently diagnose and fix the issue.

Remember, regular maintenance can save you from costly air conditioning repairs and replacements in the long run. By following these maintenance tips and seeking professional help when necessary, you can keep your AC compressor running smoothly for years to come.

5. Replacing an AC Compressor: When Repairs are Not Enough

Sometimes, repairing the AC compressor isn’t enough to fix the problem. In these cases, replacement is the only thing left to do. Here are a few instances where replacement is necessary:

1. Damage to the Compressor
If the compressor has suffered extensive damage, repairs may not be enough to make it work again. This could be caused by a lack of maintenance or neglect over time.

2. Age of the Compressor
If your compressor has reached the end of its lifespan, repairs may not be enough to keep it running. Most compressors last between 10 and 15 years, so keep this in mind when considering repair versus replacement.

3. Cost of Repairs
In some cases, the cost of repairing the compressor may be more than the cost of replacing it altogether. This is especially true if the compressor has already had several issues in the past.

When it comes to replacing the compressor, it’s important to hire a professional HVAC technician. They will have the tools and experience necessary to complete the job properly. Additionally, they can help you choose the right replacement compressor for your system.

Overall, replacing the compressor can be a costly endeavor, but it’s sometimes necessary when repairs are not enough. By staying on top of maintenance and addressing problems as soon as they arise, you can help prolong the life of your compressor, and avoid the need for replacement altogether.

6. Conclusion: Taking Care of Your AC Compressor for Long-Term Use and Comfortable Living

Your AC compressor is an important component in keeping your home cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. By understanding what causes AC compressor failure and learning preventative measures, you can prolong the life of your unit and avoid costly repairs.

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your AC compressor running smoothly. This includes cleaning or replacing air filters, checking refrigerant levels, and ensuring proper airflow throughout your system. It is also important to address any warning signs of compressor failure, such as strange noises or warm air blowing from your vents, as soon as possible.

If your AC compressor does need to be replaced, it is best to consult a professional HVAC technician. They have the expertise and tools needed to safely and efficiently replace the unit, ensuring your home is back to its comfortable state as soon as possible.

By taking care of your AC compressor, you can enjoy long-term use of your unit and comfortable living for years to come. Don’t neglect regular maintenance and be aware of any warning signs of failure. By being proactive, you can avoid a major expense and keep your home cool and comfortable.

People Also Ask

Can a power surge kill an AC compressor?

Yes, a power surge can kill an AC compressor. When the power supply to the compressor is suddenly interrupted or fluctuates, it can cause the compressor to overheat and fail.

Can a dirty air filter kill an AC compressor?

A dirty air filter can cause a range of problems in an AC system, but it is unlikely to directly kill the compressor. However, an excessively clogged filter can reduce airflow to the compressor, which in turn can cause it to overheat and fail prematurely over time.

Can low refrigerant kill an AC compressor?

Low refrigerant levels can cause the compressor to overheat and fail, as the refrigerant absorbs heat that the compressor generates while it operates. Without enough refrigerant, the compressor can run too hot, leading to mechanical failure.

Can hail damage kill an AC compressor?

Hail damage can potentially kill an AC compressor if the hail is large enough to dent or damage the unit’s internal parts. This kind of damage can cause leaks in the refrigerant lines, damage to the compressor’s valves or pistons, or other mechanical issues that can cut short the compressor’s lifespan.

Can debris in the outdoor unit kill an AC compressor?

Debris such as leaves, twigs, or grass clippings can restrict airflow through the outdoor unit, which can cause the compressor to overheat and fail. It is important to keep the outdoor unit clear of debris and ensure proper airflow to protect against compressor failure.


AC compressors are essential components of modern air conditioning systems, but they can be vulnerable to a variety of factors that can cause them to fail prematurely. These factors include power surges, dirty or clogged air filters, low refrigerant levels, hail damage, and debris in the outdoor unit. To protect your AC compressor and keep your system running smoothly, it is important to regularly maintain and service your equipment, and address any issues promptly before they can cause serious damage.