Air Flow Gurus

Choosing the Right AC Compressor: Types Maintenance and Warranty

AC Compressor Types: Choosing the Right One for Your Cooling SystemWhen it comes to keeping your home cool and comfortable, your AC compressor plays a crucial role. It is the heart of your cooling system, responsible for circulating the refrigerant and compressing it into a high-pressure gas.

However, not all compressors are created equal. In this article, we will explore the different types of AC compressors available in the market, how they work, and the benefits they offer.

By understanding these compressor types, you will be better equipped to make an informed decision when it comes to selecting the right one for your cooling needs.

Scroll Compressors

– Copeland UltraTech Scroll Compressor: The Copeland UltraTech Scroll compressor is a popular choice among homeowners and HVAC professionals alike. It is known for its exceptional reliability and energy efficiency.

– How does a scroll compressor work? Unlike other compressors, scroll compressors use two spiral-shaped scroll members to compress the refrigerant.

One scroll member remains stationary while the other orbits around it. This unique design creates a smooth and continuous compression process, resulting in fewer moving parts and reduced likelihood of failure.

– Benefits of a scroll compressor: Scroll compressors offer several advantages, including high energy efficiency, quieter operation, and better temperature control. Additionally, they require less maintenance and have a longer lifespan compared to other compressor types.

Rotary Compressors

– Ductless ACs and heat pumps: Rotary compressors are commonly used in ductless air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These systems are ideal for homes without ductwork or for specific zones that require independent temperature control.

– How does a rotary compressor work? Rotary compressors use rotating vanes or blades to compress the refrigerant.

As the rotor spins, the vanes trap the refrigerant and compress it, creating the necessary pressure for the cooling process. – Benefits of a rotary compressor: Rotary compressors offer advantages such as compact size, high efficiency, and the ability to operate at variable speeds.

They provide reliable cooling performance and are known for their durability.

Reciprocating Compressors

– R22 refrigerant: Reciprocating compressors are commonly paired with the R22 refrigerant, which has been phased out due to its adverse environmental impacts. However, there are still AC units in operation that use this refrigerant.

– How does a reciprocating compressor work? Reciprocating compressors work by using a piston to compress the refrigerant.

The piston moves up and down in a cylinder, creating a vacuum that draws in the refrigerant and then compresses it. – Benefits of a reciprocating compressor: Reciprocating compressors provide excellent cooling capacity and can handle heavy-duty applications.

They are cost-effective and easy to maintain, making them a popular choice for older AC systems.

Screw Compressors

– Rotary screw compressors: Screw compressors are widely used in industrial and commercial HVAC systems where large cooling capacities are required. – How does a screw compressor work?

Screw compressors use two rotating helical screws to compress the refrigerant. As the screws rotate, the refrigerant is trapped and compressed, creating the necessary pressure for cooling.

– Benefits of a screw compressor: Screw compressors offer advantages such as high efficiency, continuous operation, and minimal vibration. They are capable of delivering a large volume of compressed air, making them suitable for demanding cooling applications.

Centrifugal Compressors

– Centrifugal compressors: Centrifugal compressors are typically found in large-scale commercial and industrial cooling systems. – How does a centrifugal compressor work?

Centrifugal compressors use centrifugal force to compress the refrigerant. The refrigerant enters the compressor at a high velocity and is redirected by the rotating impeller, which then compresses the refrigerant and increases its pressure.

– Benefits of a centrifugal compressor: Centrifugal compressors offer advantages such as high cooling capacity, energy efficiency, and reliability. They are often used in applications where a large volume of cooled air is required.

Importance of Maintenance

– Durability: Regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of your AC compressor, ensuring it operates at peak performance for years to come. – Efficiency: Proper maintenance enhances the efficiency of the compressor, resulting in lower energy consumption and reduced cooling costs.

– Warranty requirements: Many manufacturers require regular maintenance to validate the warranty on your AC compressor. – Potential cost savings: By addressing small issues early through maintenance, you can avoid costly repairs or premature replacements.

Essential Maintenance Steps

– Checking seals: Inspecting and replacing worn or damaged seals prevents refrigerant leaks, ensuring optimal compressor performance. – Cleaning coils: Dirty coils impede heat transfer, reducing efficiency.

Regularly cleaning the coils helps maintain optimal cooling capacity. – Changing air filter: A clogged air filter restricts airflow, forcing the compressor to work harder.

Regular filter changes improve the compressor’s efficiency. – Checking refrigerant level: Incorrect refrigerant levels can cause the compressor to overwork or lead to insufficient cooling.

Regular checks prevent these issues. – Protecting the condenser unit: Keeping the condenser unit clean, clear of debris, and well-ventilated ensures efficient heat transfer.

– Trimming vegetation: Overgrown foliage and plants around the condenser can obstruct airflow, reducing cooling performance. – Potential consequences of neglecting maintenance: Neglecting maintenance can result in decreased cooling capacity, increased energy consumption, and potential compressor failure.

By understanding the various types of AC compressors and the importance of regular maintenance, you can make informed decisions about your cooling system. Whether you opt for a scroll, rotary, reciprocating, screw, or centrifugal compressor, regular care will ensure your compressor operates efficiently and provides cool comfort for years to come.

So, don’t overlook the significance of choosing the right compressor and giving it the attention it deserves. Stay cool!

Common AC Compressor Problems: Troubleshooting and SolutionsYour AC compressor plays a vital role in keeping your home cool and comfortable during the hot summer months.

However, like any mechanical system, it is susceptible to various issues that can compromise its performance. In this article, we will explore some common AC compressor problems, their causes, and potential solutions.

By understanding these issues, you will be better equipped to identify and address them promptly, ensuring uninterrupted cooling for your home.

Circulation Problems

When warm air is blowing out of your AC system instead of cool air, it can be a sign of circulation problems within the compressor. These problems can result from several issues, such as a refrigerant leak or a blocked or damaged refrigerant line.

A refrigerant leak is a common issue that can cause poor circulation. When refrigerant levels are low, the compressor has to work harder to cool the air, which can lead to increased energy consumption and reduced cooling capacity.

Additionally, a refrigerant leak not only affects the performance of your AC system but also poses environmental risks. A blocked or damaged refrigerant line can also impede circulation.

If the line becomes clogged or obstructed, it prevents the refrigerant from flowing properly, leading to poor cooling performance. Similarly, any damage or leakage in the refrigerant line can affect the compressor’s ability to circulate refrigerant efficiently.

To address circulation problems, it is crucial to identify the underlying cause. If you suspect a refrigerant leak, it is essential to contact a qualified HVAC technician to locate and repair the leak, and recharge the refrigerant to the appropriate level.

In the case of a blocked or damaged refrigerant line, a professional can assess the extent of the issue and provide the necessary repairs or replacements.


An overheating AC compressor is a problem that needs immediate attention. Several factors can contribute to compressor overheating, including dirty coils and filters.

Over time, the coils of your AC system can accumulate dust, dirt, and debris, hindering the heat transfer process. Dirty coils act as an insulating layer, preventing heat from dissipating efficiently.

This not only reduces the efficiency of your cooling system but also puts strain on the compressor, leading to overheating. Similarly, a dirty air filter can obstruct airflow, forcing the compressor to work harder to maintain the desired cooling temperature.

This extra strain can cause the compressor to overheat and potentially lead to mechanical failure. To prevent overheating, it is crucial to regularly clean the coils and replace the air filter.

Cleaning the coils can be done using a soft brush or a coil cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. Additionally, regularly replacing the air filter will promote proper airflow and prevent debris from accumulating.

Hard Starting, Ticking, or Clanking

If your AC compressor experiences difficulties starting up or produces unusual noises such as ticking or clanking, it may indicate electrical issues or a failing AC capacitor or relay. Electrical issues, such as faulty wiring or loose connections, can prevent the compressor from receiving the necessary power to start up properly.

Faulty wiring can cause electrical arcing or short circuits that can damage the compressor or other components of the cooling system. A failing AC capacitor or relay can also contribute to hard starting or abnormal noises.

The capacitor provides an electrical boost to start the compressor and keep it running smoothly. If the capacitor is faulty or weak, the compressor may struggle to start, leading to hard starting or clicking noises.

Similarly, a failing relay can cause intermittent power supply to the compressor, resulting in similar issues. Addressing these problems requires professional expertise.

An HVAC technician can inspect the electrical components, identify any faults or damage, and provide the necessary repairs or replacements to ensure proper operation of the compressor.

Refrigerant Pressure Problems

The proper function of your AC compressor relies on maintaining the correct refrigerant pressure. High or low discharge pressure can indicate potential problems with the compressor or other components of the cooling system.

High discharge pressure can result from issues such as a dirty condenser, airflow restrictions, or a malfunctioning expansion valve. These issues can cause the refrigerant to build up excessive pressure within the compressor, putting it under strain and potentially leading to decreased cooling capacity or even compressor failure.

Conversely, low discharge pressure can occur due to problems such as refrigerant leaks, insufficient refrigerant charge, or a defective expansion valve. In these cases, the compressor may struggle to compress the refrigerant properly, leading to decreased cooling performance.

Diagnosing and addressing refrigerant pressure problems require the expertise of a qualified HVAC technician. They will troubleshoot the system, identify the underlying cause of the pressure issue, and provide the necessary repairs or adjustments to restore optimal functionality.

Burned Out AC Compressor

If you notice a lack of cool air or a complete failure of your AC system, it could be indicative of a burned-out compressor. This issue occurs when the compressor has been operating under excessive strain, and the internal motor or winding fails.

A burned-out compressor often requires professional diagnosis to confirm the issue. HVAC technicians can assess the compressor’s condition, identify the cause of failure, and determine if a replacement is necessary.

It is essential to note that attempting to repair a burned-out compressor is typically not recommended, as it may not restore the compressor’s reliability and efficiency.

Bad Compressor Repair

Improper repairs to an AC compressor can have severe consequences. Inadequate repairs, such as using the wrong suction line size or improper installation, can lead to decreased cooling performance, increased energy consumption, and potential compressor failure.

To ensure the longevity and efficiency of your AC compressor, it is crucial to rely on qualified HVAC technicians who have the necessary knowledge and expertise. Professional technicians will perform accurate repairs, adhere to manufacturer guidelines, and use appropriate replacement parts, ensuring the compressor operates optimally.

Refrigerant Contaminants

Refrigerant contaminants can compromise the performance and lifespan of your AC compressor. Contaminants can include moisture or dirt that enter the refrigerant system, affecting its stability and functionality.

The filter drier is an integral component that helps remove contaminants from the refrigerant. It absorbs moisture and captures debris, preventing them from circulating through the compressor and other components of the cooling system.

Regular maintenance, including replacing the filter drier, will help ensure the refrigerant remains clean and the compressor operates smoothly. Addressing refrigerant contaminants requires professional expertise.

An HVAC technician can properly assess the system, identify any refrigerant contamination, and take the necessary steps to remove the contaminants and restore the compressor’s functionality.


Understanding common AC compressor problems and their potential solutions is essential for maintaining a reliable and efficient cooling system. By staying vigilant, conducting regular maintenance, and promptly addressing any issues, you can ensure optimal performance and extend the lifespan of your AC compressor.

Remember, when it comes to the health of your compressor, prevention and timely repairs are key to keeping your home cool and comfortable all year round. AC Compressor Warranties: Understanding Your CoverageWhen investing in a new AC compressor, it is important to consider the warranty offered by the manufacturer.

AC compressor warranties provide peace of mind by protecting your investment and ensuring that you are covered in the event of any mechanical failure. In this article, we will explore different types of AC compressor warranties, their coverage, and the manufacturers that offer them.

By understanding the warranty options available, you can make an informed decision when choosing an AC compressor for your cooling needs.

Lifetime Warranties

Some manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on their AC compressors. For example, Goodman and Amana provide unit replacement warranties that cover the cost of a new compressor if it fails within the covered period.

It is important to review the specific terms and conditions of these warranties, as they may vary depending on the manufacturer and the model of the compressor. Under a lifetime warranty, the terms may specify that the coverage only applies to the original owner of the compressor and may require regular maintenance and documentation of service visits.

Additionally, some warranties may cover specific components and exclude others. It is crucial to thoroughly read and understand the warranty documentation to ensure you meet the requirements for coverage.

Twelve/12 Years Warranties

Trane and American Standard are two manufacturers that offer twelve-year warranties on their AC compressors. These warranties typically cover the cost of replacing a defective compressor within the covered period but may exclude labor charges.

Once again, it is important to carefully review the terms and conditions of the warranty to understand the coverage and any requirements for maintenance or documentation. Ten/10 Years Warranties

Many reputable AC manufacturers, such as Carrier, Bryant, Lennox, Rheem, Ruud, Armstrong Air, and Heil, offer ten-year warranties on their compressors.

These warranties generally cover the cost of a new compressor if it fails within the specified timeframe. It is essential to review the terms and conditions of the warranty, as they may differ between manufacturers and models.

Five/5 Years Warranties

The Lennox Merit Series offers a five-year warranty on its compressors. This warranty provides coverage for a limited period, protecting against any manufacturing defects or premature failures.

Once again, it is critical to read the warranty documentation provided by the manufacturer to understand the coverage and any applicable terms and conditions.

Unit Replacement Warranties

Some manufacturers, including Goodman, ICP brands, Daikin, Rheem, and Ruud, offer unit replacement warranties on their AC compressors. These warranties typically cover the cost of a new compressor if failure occurs within the covered period.

It is important to review the specific terms and conditions of these warranties, as they may vary depending on the manufacturer and model of the compressor. Understanding the coverage provided by unit replacement warranties is crucial.

The warranties may have specific requirements, such as regular maintenance, proper installation, and proof of professional service visits. Reviewing and complying with these requirements ensures that you maintain the coverage provided by the warranty.

Factors Affecting Cost

Several factors affect the cost of an AC compressor. The size of the compressor is a major factor, as larger compressors tend to cost more than smaller ones due to their increased cooling capacity.

The quality and brand of the compressor also play a role in its cost, with premium brands typically commanding higher prices than budget options. Furthermore, the stages of the compressor can impact the cost.

Single-stage compressors are less expensive but operate at full capacity all the time, resulting in higher energy consumption. On the other hand, two-stage or variable-speed compressors provide better energy efficiency and comfort control but come with a higher price tag.

To determine the cost of an AC compressor, it is best to consult with an HVAC professional or obtain multiple quotes from reputable contractors. They can assess your cooling needs, evaluate the appropriate compressor size and type, and provide an estimate based on these factors.

Cost Breakdown by BTUs

The cost of an AC compressor can be broken down by British Thermal Units (BTUs). On average, the cost of a new compressor ranges from $1,200 to $3,000 for residential units.

Premium compressors can cost upwards of $4,500 or more. It is essential to note that these prices reflect the retail cost of the compressor and may not include installation fees.

Installation costs can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the installation, the need for additional components or modifications, and labor rates in your area. It is advisable to obtain quotes from multiple contractors to compare prices and ensure a fair and accurate estimate for the complete installation process.


Understanding AC compressor warranties and their coverage is vital when selecting a new compressor for your cooling system. Whether you are considering a lifetime warranty, a twelve-year warranty, a ten-year warranty, or a five-year warranty, reading and understanding the terms and conditions is crucial.

Additionally, considering the cost factors such as compressor size, quality, and stages will help you make an informed decision that fits both your cooling needs and your budget. By being knowledgeable about warranties and costs, you can ensure a reliable and efficient AC compressor for years to come.

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