5 Warning Signs Your AC Compressor is Bad
Tips & Tricks

5 Warning Signs Your AC Compressor is Bad

Maintaining a comfortable and chilly home becomes a top priority as summer approaches. The AC compressor is the core of the air conditioning system and plays a crucial role in maintaining a pleasant indoor environment. The compressor circulates and pressurizes the refrigerant, which is responsible for cooling the air. AC compressors, like any other mechanical component, can malfunction over time. 

This article will discuss the five warning indications that your AC compressor may fail, allowing you to resolve the problem before it causes a total breakdown. For fast and efficient HVAC services in Fountain Hills, AZ, you may want to check out Autumn Air for their superior HVAC services. 

5 warning signs your AC compressor is bad

During the humid summer months, your AC compressor is essential to maintaining a calm and comfortable home. Recognizing the warning signs of a malfunctioning compressor can enable you to resolve the problem promptly, potentially preventing more extensive and expensive repairs in the future. 

Let us take a look at five warning signs that your AC compressor is malfunctioning.

1. Warm wind blows

Warm air instead of the expected cold air is one of the most blatant indications of a failing AC compressor. When the compressor fails, the refrigerant cannot be compressed, preventing the air from being effectively cooled. If you observe a significant decrease in cooling performance or tepid air emanating from the vents, it is highly likely that your air conditioner’s compressor is malfunctioning and requires attention.

2. Strange and loud noises

During operation, the presence of noisy or peculiar sounds is another indication that your AC compressor is in trouble. A healthy compressor should operate discreetly and without friction. However, if the compressor begins to make grinding, shrieking, or clanging noises, this could indicate internal damage or wear and tear. 

Typically, these sounds are caused by exhausted bearings, unsecured components, or a malfunctioning motor. Ignoring these noises may result in additional damage and, in extreme cases, compressor failure.

3. Constant switching on and off

Frequent on-and-off cycling of the air conditioner, known as short-cycling, may indicate a defective compressor. Short cycling occurs when the compressor fails to maintain the intended temperature and powers off prematurely. 

This could result from several issues, such as insufficient refrigerant levels, a faulty thermostat, or a failing compressor. If your air conditioning system cycles on and off more frequently than usual, you must have a professional inspect the compressor to determine the underlying cause.

4. Rising energy bills

A sudden increase in your energy bills may indicate a faulty AC compressor. When the compressor struggles to perform its duties effectively, the cooling system as a whole must work harder to compensate for its diminished cooling capacity. 

Consequently, energy consumption increases, leading to higher utility expenses. Consider the possibility that your air conditioning compressor is on the verge of failing if you observe a significant and unexplained increase in your energy costs.

5. Leaking refrigerant

There are numerous causes of refrigerant leakage, one of which is a malfunctioning compressor. The compressor relies on the refrigerant to chill the air; any leakage can interfere with the refrigeration procedure. 

If you observe refrigerant accumulating around your outdoor unit or a decrease in cooling performance accompanied by gurgling noises near your air conditioning system, it is imperative that you have a professional HVAC technician evaluate the situation immediately. Ignoring refrigerant leakage can result in additional damage to the compressor and other components and environmental hazards.

10 ways to keep your AC compressor working in top order

Regular Maintenance

Schedule routine maintenance with a qualified HVAC technician. They are able to inspect and sanitize the compressor, examine the refrigerant levels, test the electrical connections, and make any necessary repairs and adjustments.

Clean the exterior unit

Ensure the outdoor unit containing the compressor is free of grime, debris, and vegetation. Remove leaves, vegetation, and other debris that can impede ventilation and burden the compressor on a regular basis.

Replace the air filters

Dirty and obstructed air filters restrict circulation, thereby increasing the workload of the compressor. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, replace or clean the air filters every one to three months.

Maintain the right levels of refrigerant

The refrigerant is essential for cooling. Low levels of refrigerant may overload the compressor and result in poor performance. Check and maintain the refrigerant levels as recommended by the manufacturer on a regular basis.

Protect against bad weather

Protect the outdoor appliance from inclement weather. Consider covering the unit during the winter to prevent snow, ice, and debris from accumulating. Install a protective barrier or windbreak to shield the unit in areas with high winds.

Ensure adequate airflow

Ensure that adequate ventilation is present around the outdoor appliance. Maintain appropriate ventilation and prevent overheating by keeping bushes, shrubbery, and other obstacles at least two feet away from the unit.

Utilize an automatic thermostat

Use an automatic or programmable thermostat to optimize and control ventilation cycles. Create temperature schedules that correspond to your daily routine, thereby relieving superfluous strain on the compressor.

Avoid overworking the system

Set the thermostat to an appropriate temperature to avoid overworking the air conditioner. Extreme differences in temperature between the interior and exterior place additional strain on the compressor.

Resolve problems promptly

If you observe any warning signs of a malfunctioning compressor, such as heated air being expelled or peculiar sounds, you should address the problem immediately. Before the problem worsens, contact a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and remedy it.

Inform yourself

Familiarize yourself with the manufacturer-supplied user manual and maintenance instructions. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for appropriate AC system care, operation, and maintenance.


Understanding the warning signs of a malfunctioning AC compressor is crucial for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. If you observe balmy air flowing, peculiar sounds, frequent toggling on and off, higher energy bills, or refrigerant leakage, seek professional assistance immediately. Ignoring these indicators may further damage your compressor and other components, necessitating more extensive repairs or even a replacement of the entire system.

Remember that a properly functioning AC compressor is necessary for optimal chilling performance, energy efficiency, and home comfort. You can ensure that your AC system operates reliably and keeps you comfortable during the warmest months of the year by addressing compressor problems promptly and scheduling routine maintenance.

Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash

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