Air Conditioning FAQ: What Does the Compressor Do?

An air conditioner compressor is an essential component of your cooling system. The other major players are an evaporator (inside) and condenser (outside). The compressor is the middle man.

Here are some basic facts for you about the air conditioning compressor:

  • It runs on electricity, which powers a motor and fans
  • Its main function is circulating refrigerant (described above)
  • It’s designed like a motor and has a cylinder and piston
  • It works by pressurizing refrigerant and regulating temperature

Most houses have a split air conditioning system. This means that, in your central AC, you have the aforementioned indoor and outdoor units that work together to cool your home. General air flow in your home follows this sequence:

  1. 1. Warm air is pulled in through vents
  2. 2. Refrigerant-filled evaporator coils absorb the heat
  3. 3. The condenser pumps hot air back outside

Your air conditioning compressor plays the all-important role of handling temperature and pressure. Once refrigerant leaves the evaporator, it turns into low-pressure gas. It needs to get back to a high-pressure molecular form in order to release the heat it absorbed. The compressor accomplishes that, taking the vapor refrigerant and superheating it until it moves towards the outdoor vents. The refrigerant safely returns to liquid form, which can allow the process to continue.

Clear as mud?

There are a few basic ways to optimize your compressor function and ensure the hot air goes out and cool air stays in. Read on to learn what they are.

Need AC maintenance or repair in Lake Forest, CA? We’ve got you covered. Dynamic Air Services is the leading company for cooling systems in southern CA. Give us a call at (949) 979-4592 or go online to book an appointment.

Air Conditioner Compressor Maintenance Tips

Air conditioning compressors are expensive. In order to keep it in good working order, all of the other working parts of your indoor and outdoor units need to stay shipshape. If your compressor goes kaput, it could cost a couple thousands dollars to replace. A compressor can last 10-15 years, so it’s worth it to do some regular maintenance.

1. Clear Outdoor Unit Space

As you can see above, a compressor performs the vital function of getting the hot air out. This occurs when it forces changes to the molecular structure of the refrigerant (turning it from vapor back into liquid). All of the superheat that process generates needs to flow through the outside vents without obstructions.

This means that there can’t be anything blocking your outdoor unit.
  • Cut back shrubs and bulky plants that could block the unit
  • Weed regularly, remembering that some vines and other invasive plants can grow up and into your outdoor unit
  • Don’t use decorative covers for your outdoor air conditioner unit
  • Don’t add very close fences or guards to your unit

Even if the HOA is breathing down your neck about visibility, take time to make the right choices and leave an open space around your entire outdoor air conditioning unit. This will extend the life of your system and ensure that you don’t have premature breakdowns.

2. Clean Your Outdoor Air Conditioner

Those sharp-looking, super-fast blades are just one of the places your outdoor air unit could get clogged up. Dirt, debris and even bugs can get caught in the condenser fins, causing blockages and slowing down the outflow of hot air.

You can actually buy a coil cleaner specifically intended for this use. The goal is to clean and rinse the fins entirely so that they spin at the right speed.

3. Maintain Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is the secret sauce that makes the whole thing work. While your compressor manages how it functions, there has to be enough refrigerant in order for everything to work properly. Refrigerants don’t evaporate or lose charge, like some people think. In fact, the only reason your refrigerant should ever get low is if you have a leak.

In addition preserving the integrity of your compressor, low refrigerant is indicative of a bigger problem that needs professional attention. Unaddressed leaks could mean split coils and result in major failures.

Here are some symptoms that you may be running low:

  • Your energy bill is surprisingly high
  • You see visible frost on the coils
  • There is a gurgling sound
  • Your AC isn’t effectively cooling your home

This is one area in which you really need a professional. Don’t wait until something catastrophic happens. We need to get in there and investigate. Contact Dynamic Air Services to schedule an appointment. In addition to 24/7 availability, we can help anyone in the Lake Forest, CA area online and schedule emergency visits as needed.

4. Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance for an air conditioning compressor takes a few forms. Most people consider this part of annual home maintenance, especially in hot climates like Lake Forest. At Dynamic Air, we perform regular residential air conditioning services. Here are a few of the tasks that might be performed to keep your system running smoothly:

  • Refrigerant charge
  • Airflow testing
  • Duct testing
  • Replace air filters
  • Clean condenser coils
  • Duct sealing

In addition to mechanical and functional maintenance, the techs at Dynamic Air are equipped with state-of-the-art tech to ensure that your system is running at its best performance capacity. This saves you money every month on energy bills. Our energy saving services include:

  1. 1. Performance Evaluation Computer (P.E.C) tune up
  2. 2. Duct Test and Seal (DTS)

Dynamic Air Services has techs throughout Orange County and Riverside County. You can schedule tune-ups online, email or call us to learn more.

AC Compressor Repair in Lake Forest, CA

Even if properly maintained, AC compressors are like any other mechanical item and do wear out over time. If your compressor needs repair, we can help. Don’t wait until a suspected problem turns into a giant problem. If you see symptoms that your compressor is struggling, or need service on any of your heating or cooling systems, call us at (949) 979-4748.
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