What Does a Central AC Compressor Do?

February 09, 2022

What purpose does a central AC’s compressor play?

It’s not an exaggeration to say the central AC compressor is the most important component of any AC unit. Without it, your air conditioner simply wouldn’t work.

Perhaps you’ve heard other HVAC companies complain that compressor repairs are impossible and replacements are expensive, and you rolled your eyes because it seemed like they’re trying to upsell you. But in the case of AC compressors, those contractors are telling the truth.

To help you understand the importance of your compressor, we’ll answer four common questions:

  • How do ACs work?
  • What does a central AC compressor do?
  • Why is my compressor so difficult to repair?
  • How do I know if my compressor is broken?

All in all, your AC compressor is a complex part and vital for proper performance.

Is your AC compressor malfunctioning?

Call Advanced Air to get a technician dispatched ASAP. We’ll investigate your AC and walk you through all your repair and replacement options, so we can empower you to make the best decision for your family. Give us a call at (888) 853-5143 to schedule an appointment today!

How Do ACs Work?

All central AC systems have an inside and outside unit.

Like most Florida homeowners, you probably use your AC almost every day. But how does it work exactly? ACs work by absorbing heat from inside your home and dumping it outside using a chemical agent called refrigerant.

Your AC unit consists of two parts: an inside unit, which is probably in a closet, and an outside unit, which might be on your roof or in your backyard. These two units connect via copper tubing filled with refrigerant—the same substance your refrigerator uses to keep your groceries cool.

Liquid refrigerant flows through the copper tubing to the indoor unit, directed through your AC’s evaporator coil. It absorbs the warm air from inside your home, and the heat transforms the refrigerant into a gas.

The gas refrigerant then travels through the copper tubing to the outdoor unit. At this point, the refrigerant releases the heat it has been carrying outdoors through your AC’s condenser coils. The agent then turns back into a liquid, traveling back to your indoor unit to absorb more heat until it cools your home to your desired temperature.

You’re probably wondering where the compressor is in this process. It is actually involved in every component of the AC cooling process. That’s because…

What Does a Central AC Compressor Do?

How air conditioners work with a compressor / Source: Department of Energy

…Your compressor is the pump that pushes the refrigerant through your AC system. Without a compressor, the refrigerant would not travel through your AC at all, making it impossible for it to cool your home.

Your compressor is housed in the outdoor unit of your AC. If it’s not working properly, your home may not adequately cool down. If it’s completely broken, your AC won’t work at all.

Think of your AC compressor as the heart of your AC. Repairing your AC compressor is similar to performing heart surgery. The heart may only be one small organ in the body, but fixing it is incredibly technical and difficult. The same is true of AC compressors.

Why Is My Compressor So Difficult To Repair?

Hermetic seals prevent air conditioners from leaking refrigerant into your home.

So now you know how important your AC compressor is, but is fixing it really that complicated? Unfortunately, because most AC compressors are hermetically sealed, they are impossible for HVAC technicians to repair.

A hermetic seal means all compressor's components are encased in an airtight metal container. Only the AC manufacturer can open the container.

The benefit of hermetically sealed compressors is they can’t leak refrigerant, which is toxic. Inhaling any refrigerant can cause serious respiratory problems.

The downside is replacing a compressor is typically less cost effective than replacement due to the equipment and time needed for a technician to open the container and replace the compressor.

How Do I Know if My Compressor is Broken?

If your AC stops working as well as it used to, don’t panic! An HVAC technician can help you determine if the problem is with your compressor, but some warning signs to look out for include:

  • AC blowing warm air
  • Little to no airflow coming from your AC
  • Strange clicking noises around your outdoor AC unit
  • Frequent tripping of your circuit breaker

If you have a broken AC compressor, you have two options: replace the compressor or replace your AC.Replacing your AC compressor might be worthwhile if you have a fairly new AC unit or if it will cost less than 50% of an AC replacement.

AC units typically last between 8–10 years in Florida. If your AC unit is getting close to that range or has other problems, a full system replacement will be more cost effective in the long run.

Don’t Wait on AC Problems—Call Advanced Air for the Best Service in Southwest Florida.

Call Advanced Air for a central AC compressor replacement.

When you need an AC repair or replacement, reach out to the team most trusted by Southwest Florida homeowners. We offer upfront pricing and prompt, punctual service, so there are no unwelcome surprises once the work is done. And when you need help—and fast!—our professionals are available for same-day appointments. With more 5-star reviews than any other HVAC company around and professional, honest team members, you know you’ll be taken care of. Give us a call today at (888) 853-5143!

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