An A/C compressor is responsible for removing heat from the air so your living space can be comfortable all year long. This component of your HVAC system should last approximately 10 years with the proper maintenance. However, since it’s outside, it’s vulnerable to wear and tear over time. Use this HVAC compressor life expectancy guide to learn how to prolong its life span.
Average Life Span of an A/C Compressor
An A/C compressor should last about a decade — slightly less than how long the overall HVAC unit lasts. However, the following factors affect the average life of your A/C compressor:
- Maintenance: You should schedule professional maintenance for your air conditioner at least once a year. By cleaning and caring for your cooling and heating system, you can diagnose issues with any of the components, including the A/C compressor, so you can repair them before the whole system fails. However, your A/C compressor could break down prematurely if you haven’t maintained it properly.
- A/C compressor usage: Using your A/C unit too much will wear down on the A/C compressor and cut its life span short. You can also reduce its life expectancy by using it too little. The motor and pistons that transport the refrigerant throughout the system can stop working if you don’t use them regularly.
- Refrigerant leak: The A/C compressor needs enough refrigerant to keep the air cool. You normally don’t need to replace the refrigerant because it stays within the condenser unit. A refrigerant leak is an issue that requires professional assistance.
- The unit’s size: Your air conditioner should be the correct size for the space that it needs to cool, or it’ll have to work harder to make the area a comfortable temperature. A unit that’s too small causes the compressor to work harder to produce cold air. On the other hand, a unit that’s too large repeatedly shuts on and off to prevent overcooling the area, which also puts additional strain on the compressor.
Should You Replace the A/C Compressor or the Whole Unit?
Since an A/C compressor is such a critical component of your A/C, it might be worth it to replace the whole unit if the compressor breaks. However, in some cases, it’s better to replace only the faulty compressor. Consider the following factors to determine whether you can change out your A/C compressor or should install a brand-new unit:
- The air conditioner’s age: You can replace your A/C compressor if the overall unit is relatively new. Warranties often cover a new A/C compressor if you schedule professional maintenance at least once a year, so you might be able to get this component replaced for free. However, if the air conditioner is more than a decade old anyway, it only has a few good years left before it also starts to wear down, so it might be a good time to upgrade to a new one.
- The cost of repairs or replacement: You might want to save money by replacing your A/C compressor instead of upgrading the whole unit. Keep in mind that it might be better to replace your air conditioner if you’ve been having issues with it over the past few years, such as refrigerant leaks, unusual noises when it’s on and sporadic cooling. A full air conditioner replacement will help you save money on future repairs.
- The history of repairs on your air conditioner: An air conditioner that has given you trouble over the last few years might not be worth keeping. As it gets older, it’ll start to have more problems, and more parts will break down. You can replace your A/C compressor if the overall unit hasn’t had any issues, but if you frequently need repairs, it’s probably better to get a new air conditioner.
- The cost of energy bills: A new air conditioner can reduce your cooling costs over time. As your unit starts to wear down, on the other hand, you’ll notice your energy bills slowly begin to increase. Instead of trying to save money by replacing only the A/C compressor, you may want to replace your whole unit to reduce your utility expenses in the long run.
Besides replacing the A/C compressor or the whole unit, you might also want to replace the outdoor condenser unit. However, since HVAC technology has advanced so quickly, it might be challenging to retrofit a new condenser to the rest of your HVAC system. As a result, you may need to replace the whole A/C unit if you decided that replacing your A/C compressor isn’t worth it.
How to Increase the Life of Your A/C Compressor
You can avoid repairing or replacing your A/C compressor by taking care of your whole HVAC system. Besides increasing its life span, maintaining your air conditioner reduces monthly A/C costs. Even though you should schedule professional annual tune-ups, you can also follow these steps for taking care of your air conditioner on your own:
- Inspect the A/C unit: Since an A/C compressor works with the rest of your air conditioner, you should check the whole system for damage or signs of wear. The refrigerant lines and insulation should be in excellent condition so they don’t cause excessive wear on the system’s compressor.
- Clear debris from drain lines: When steam condenses into water within your drain lines, mold and mildew may develop. Use a stiff brush to remove any blockages, and use a vinegar solution for stubborn substances.
- Remove obstructions around the condenser: Eliminate debris or foliage near your condenser unit that could block airflow and put additional strain on your air conditioner. You can also clean dirt off the outside of the condenser with a garden hose.
- Clean the condenser coils: Wipe dust and other debris off your condenser coils at least once every two weeks so your A/C compressor works efficiently.
- Replace the air filter: Dirty or clogged air filters may cause your A/C compressor to work harder to bring cool air into your living space. Change the air filter at least once a month to allow air to flow freely through the system.
- Engage the high-pressure switch: Your A/C compressor has a high-pressure switch to keep the unit from overheating. Turn on this switch often if the condenser is in direct sunlight and you live in a warm area.
- Invest in the right size: The A/C unit should be big or small enough for the area that you want to keep cool. Consult a professional HVAC technician to perform a Manual J calculation so you can find out what size is best for your space.
Contact Us for A/C Compressor Repair or Replacement
If you think you need a new A/C compressor, our team at A/C Contractors is here to help. We provide quality residential HVAC service, installation and repair throughout Longview and Tyler, Texas. Our team of professionals will help you find the right HVAC system and components for your property, and our experienced Do-It-Right Guys will seamlessly install your new system.
Contact A/C Contractors, your Comfort King, at 903-759-4250 for a free estimate. Let us help you have a comfortable home by providing you with a long-lasting A/C compressor for your air conditioner.