How to Rebuild a Compressor

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Rebuilding a compressor for an air conditioning unit, be it for an industrial or residential setting, is not difficult and can be accomplished with a little bit of know-how and by following a few simple directions. A compressor is the portion of the air conditioning unit that helps pump air through the system, thus if the compressor goes bad or has a problem, the entire AC unit goes down. Compressor units are expensive to purchase, but for the most part can survive a long time. Because of their long lifespan, many manufacturers offer rebuild kits that include internal gaskets, seals and bearings, which when installed can extend the useful lifespan of the compressor by many years.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Ratchet set
  • Vise
  • Shaft seal kit
  • Gasket kit
  • Pliers
  • Purchase the correct replacement parts for your model of compressor. Assuming you have already removed the compressor from the AC unit, find the manufacturer and model number on the compressor housing. Call the manufacturer and order a rebuild kit (this is often a cheaper way to get parts than visiting your local HVAC shop).

  • Use the ratchet set to loosen and remove the bolts holding the upper and lower housing together. The shaft locknut will now be exposed. Remove the locknut and the shims located below it. Use a set of pliers to remove the lockring on the compressor plate. Pull the plate off, exposing the remainder of the shaft and the internal cylinders. In most instances, the cylinders will be fine and not need replacing; however, the gaskets on the manifold housing (removed with the upper housing) and the shaft seals must be replaced.

  • Remove the old shaft seals from the shaft and replace the gaskets in the manifold housing with new ones. Use an industrial-strength gear lube to grease the internal shaft, the gaskets you replaced and the tops of the compressor cylinders.

  • Slide the compressor plate back in place, replace the lockring, slide the shims in place and replace the shaft locknut. Slide the upper and lower housings back together and secure the mounting bolts. Before replacing the compressor into the AC unit, connect wiring harness from the unit and test it to see if the compressor runs smoothly. This could save you having to uninstall the compressor upon learning a small part of housing is misaligned or some other similar malady.

Tips & Warnings

  • Placing the compressor in a vise while you perform the disassembly process is the best way to assure the proper alignment upon reassembly.
  • Grease the shaft upon reassembly to ward off any rough starts or squealing parts.

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  • Photo Credit http://www.jefa-autoparts.com/Pics/AC%20Compressor%201.jpg
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