May 10, 2020

A compressor is one of the most important parts of an air conditioning system, but the average person does not know much about what a compressor actually does. Educating yourself on this helpful AC component will make it easier for you to manage your cooling system and keep your indoor temperatures comfortable.

What Is an Air Compressor?

A compressor is the part of the air conditioner that is responsible for cooling your air, so it is one of the most important pieces in the whole system. A compressor is essentially a large pump that moves refrigerant throughout your entire system. It is almost always powered by an electric motor. If you take your AC unit apart to look at the compressor, it will usually appear to be a large cylinder made of metal and plastic.

In most of the central AC units that Weather Masters Corp. installs in Frederick, the compressor will be in the large, cube-shaped condenser unit outside of your building. In addition to holding the compressor, the big condenser unit usually also has a fan, cooling fins, and the condenser. All of these parts are typically placed outside because they take up a lot of space, release a lot of heat into the air, and can be noisy. However, if you have smaller window air conditioning units, the compressor may be built into the main AC box.

How a Compressor Works

The compressor cools your air by repeating a cycle of steps. First, it takes in refrigerant that is currently in a warm, gaseous state. The compressor then starts to put a lot of pressure onto the refrigerant. This pressure turns the refrigerant into a liquid, and at the same time, it heats up the liquid even more. The pressure from the compressor then pushes the superheated liquid refrigerant into the condenser coils.

As the refrigerant moves along these coils, the high levels of heat gently evaporate into the outdoor air. By the time the refrigerant finishes looping through the condenser coils, it is icy cold again. This cold liquid is then sent back into the indoor unit of your house. As air is blown over the cold refrigerant, it absorbs more and more heat, slowly turning back into a warm gas. The heat is then carried in the gas away from your house, leaving behind cool air. The warm gas is pulled back into the compressor, where it starts the cycle all over again.

How to Help Your Compressor Do Its Job

A compressor is one of the most important parts of an AC system, so these components are typically built to last. However, that does not mean you can just ignore it and expect it to function perfectly for years. If your compressor has to work harder due to various problems with your system, it can wear itself out quicker.

One of the most important things is making sure your outdoor compressor/condenser unit can properly dispose of heat. If something is blocking it from dumping heat into the outdoor air, the compressor unit can end up overheating. The most common culprits in overheated compressor cases are debris and plant buildup. Make sure that all plants are trimmed back to at least three feet away from the unit, and occasionally clean your condenser fins to keep dirt from blocking them.

Another common problem that can get in the way of a compressor doing its job is low refrigerant. When there is not enough refrigerant for your compressor to work with, it has to put higher and higher pressure on the refrigerant to push the lowered levels through your system. Your unit may have low refrigerant if you notice one or more of these problems:

  • Unusually high energy bills
  • Frost or ice showing up on your refrigerant coils
  • Strange bubbling and hissing noises from refrigerant lines
  • Constantly running AC
  • Hot air coming from your vents

The compressor is an essential part of your system, so without it, you can end up with an air conditioner that runs but only produces hot air. At Weather Masters Corp. in Frederick, MD, our highly trained technicians can service compressors, blowers, and every other part of your AC system. We maintain, install, and repair heating systems as well. Find out more about what we have to offer by giving us a call today. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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