What Causes AC Compressor Failure? Detection Tips

There can be numerous reasons that lead to the malfunctioning of your AC compressor. Most of these causes are not quite complex, and you can detect them easily. Minor wiring issues or clogging in its air filter could be cured with easy remedies. These minor issues could cause the failure of your AC compressor if ignored. However, solving them without burning a hole in your pocket is relatively easy.

The best way to do so is regularly inspecting your AC unit for abnormal noises, vibrations, and leakages. If you detect a slight ambiguity before it becomes a huge problem, consider the battle half-won. So if you are keen on learning the tips that will help you detect an underlying issue with your AC compressor, make sure you read till the end.

Prominent reasons that lead to AC compressor failure

A whole bunch of tiny and primary complications takes the shape of a compressor failure. So, it is always better to detect the problem early so that it can be fixed quickly before it gets complicated and costly.

Here are some of the prominent reasons that lead to AC compressor failure:

Clogged condenser coil

The condenser coil is the part of your air conditioner that removes moisture from the air and maintains the proper temperature inside your home or office. If you have noticed that your AC is not cooling as per the expectations, then it must be the result of a clogged condenser coil.

Dust and other particles accumulate on the AC’s condenser coil over time. As a result, the AC is put under a lot of pressure, which forces it to run continuously to cool the room. Because of this sudden increase in temperature and pressure, the compressor overheats and fails. That’s why it is imperative to keep it clean at all times, as any clog can result in poor airflow or even damage your AC compressor if not cleaned up on time.

Excessive refrigerant

Most compressors have a limit to the amount of refrigerant they can handle. If you exceed that limit, there is every chance that you will burn out the compressor and render your AC completely useless. This is more likely to happen if someone who does not have proper knowledge about the AC ends up adding refrigerant in excessive amounts or the wrong one!

Even though the installation process is easy and self-explanatory, it is still advisable to go with a professional who knows the right amount of refrigerant to be added. This will keep the compressor safe in the long run.

Blockage and damage in the suction line

The suction line is from where the refrigerant enters the compressor. A small piece of debris blocking the suction line can cause a system shutdown, which is the most common cause of compressor failure.

If a suction line is damaged, it will not be able to transfer the necessary amount of heat away from the compressor. This will cause the compressor to overheat and thus fail.

Refrigerant Leakage

If refrigerant leaks from the system, the compressor cannot push it into the indoor unit, causing the system to malfunction. If this leak is ignored for an extended period, it will result in compressor failure.

It is pertinent to mention that a refrigerant leak can be very small and will often be challenging to detect, especially if the system is old. Therefore, it’s crucial to have it checked and the refrigerant replaced every five years or earlier if there’s any damage. A leak, if any, must be fixed right away to prevent a failing AC compressor

Low level of lubricant

Another reason behind the breakdown of your compressor is insufficient lubricant oil in the system. A lack of lubrication causes wear and tear in the compressor parts, resulting in failure. Therefore, to avoid this issue, it’s crucial to get service from a certified technician who can check the lubricant level in your system and take the appropriate action if it’s low.


There are many potential causes of air conditioning compressor failure, but one of the most common is contamination. Contamination can enter the system in many ways – through leaks in the system, dirty filters, or even through the air itself.

Contamination can quickly cause problems with the compressor, leading to reduced efficiency and, eventually, failure. Therefore it is important to keep the system clean and free of contaminants to avoid this problem. This can be done by regularly changing filters and checking for leaks, as well as ensuring that the area around the air conditioner is free of dirt and debris.

Electrical issues

The compressor can be harmed along with the entire system when there is an accumulation of acids due to electrical failure.

If your compressor fails, hire a technician to test for any such acids. If there are acids in the system, you can be sure that the damage results from electrical burnout. In this case, simply fixing the system may not help. However, you can avoid this damage by hiring a tech expert who can identify and fix any damaged wiring or fuses before they become serious and cause the entire system to fail.

Detection tips

As mentioned above, there are many different causes of AC compressor failure. However, each case will have its telltale signs, which can help you detect the issues before they become too costly.

  • Blockage and damage of the suction line

  • Excessive noise coming from the indoor or outdoor unit

  • Low airflow from the indoor unit

  • High electrical usage

  • High-temperature or Low temperature

  • The system is tripping the circuit breaker repeatedly.


Though the AC compressor’s failure may seem complex, you can tackle it by detecting these simple issues. By preventing these smaller issues, you can save your failing AC compressor from further damage.

Get the system serviced by any reputable company regularly, which will ensure its safety. Also, while selecting the best HVAC service provider, opt for the one with a good grip on the subject. Do not forget to check the reviews and qualifications of their staff to be assured of the best results!

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