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AC Compressor 101: Main Issues And Replacement Cost

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The compressor is the heart of the air conditioning system. It moves the coolant between the condenser coils and the evaporator, ensuring that it changes to liquid or gas form as needed.

You don’t want your AC to just suddenly stop working in the middle of a scorching summer day. While there are a lot of possible reasons for AC failure, a faulty compressor is the most lethal and common. AC problems require the immediate attention of an experienced technician to ensure your unit functions properly and lasts long.

Below are the main AC system issues that can affect the compressor.

Low Coolant Charge

Over time, the refrigerant lines of the AC system develop minor cracks or holes that result in leaks and a decrease in the refrigerant. If the air conditioner is not cooling the house like before, chances are that there is refrigerant leakage. If not addressed immediately, it can cause overheating and eventual failure of the compressor.

Dirty coils

Air exchange occurs in the unit’s condenser coils, which are often part of the outdoor unit. If the condenser is covered with grime, dirt, and debris, heat transfer is impeded and the compressor will work harder to achieve thermostat settings. AC repair technicians from Hartman warn that keeping the coils dirty will hasten the wear and tear of the unit that can eventually lead to system failure.

Faulty thermostat

The thermostat serves as the brain of the air conditioner. It gives instructions to the entire unit about the desired temperature. A faulty or incorrectly calibrated thermostat can cause the compressor to run continuously or not at all. Typically, a quick reset can solve this problem. However, for older units with dial-type thermostats, you might need the help of a certified AC technician to fix it for you.

Electrical problems

Electrical issues can affect the AC compressor and result in a system failure. If not fixed immediately, faulty electrical parts can cause the accumulation of acids in the AC system. This buildup can damage the wiring and lead to system overload. So, if your air conditioner suddenly shuts down, you should check for a potential electrical issue. Regular maintenance by AC servicemen can help identify electrical malfunctions as soon as they become apparent.


As part of the outdoor unit, the AC compressor is exposed to various types of contaminants such as smoke, dirt, dust, debris, acid, leaves, and animal droppings. These pollutants can find their way to the compressor system and cause it to malfunction.

The dark and humid condition surrounding the compressor provides a perfect area for vegetation, fungi, and bacteria to grow. You can prevent this from damaging your compressor by scheduling cleaning and regular maintenance. Professional air conditioning service can help you clean up the AC unit as well as diagnose potential faults.

In most cases, a faulty compressor should be replaced How much does it cost to replace the AC compressor?

Compressor Replacement Cost

If you need to replace the AC compressor, it would cost you anywhere between $600 and $1,300, if under warranty. On the other hand, if it’s not covered by warranty, the replacement cost would range between $1,200 and $2,800. Typically, AC warranty runs from 5-12 years but only covers the parts.

Compressor replacement includes the spare parts, labor, and equipment cost. Depending on the work needed, labor costs can be around $400 to $1,000 at an hourly rate of $50 to $160 per hour. Labor rates may differ based on the individual contractor and the area.

In some cases, the technician might find other troubles that require repair or replacement. This could add up to the final contract cost. If the AC unit has several major problems, a complete unit replacement may be the best option. The price range for a new unit is around $3,000 to $5,000.

There are several things to consider when deciding between AC compressor repair and buying a new system. The age of the unit, brand, warranty coverage, refrigerant, compressor type, size, and availability of AC technicians are some important considerations. Talk to a professional AC technician to help you come up with an informed decision and make the most of your money.

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