How to Troubleshoot AC Compressors


An air conditioning compressor has few moving parts. If the compressor itself goes, it will need to be taken to a qualified AC technician, but there are a few things that will cause a compressor to not function correctly. Fortunately, the average person can troubleshoot and repair many of these.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 in 1 screwdriver Gloves AC spray on grill cleaner AC cicuit checker
  • Check the wall socket first. If your air conditioner is not blowing cold air, it may be the compressor that has gone bad. But before you assume this to be true, check out something else that may be the culprit. Evaluate the wall socket with the AC circuit tester. Merely plug the tester in, and a light will indicate whether there is power flowing. If there is power, then move on. If not, check your breakers and consider calling an electrician. The problem is not your AC compressor after all.

  • Open up the AC compressor so you can get a look inside. Unplug the unit and remove the front of the case. You may need your 4 in 1 screwdriver to unscrew it.

  • Clean off the front grill. The front grill needs to be super clean. If it is dirty and plugged up, the compressor will not work properly, and there will be virtually no cold air coming out of the unit. Use your spray on grill cleaner and make sure it is shiny and clean. Then plug the unit back in and test for cold air.

  • Remove the back panel. You can also do this by removing the screws that fasten it using your 4 in 1 screwdriver.

  • Check the fan and coils in the back of the AC compressor. Once the back panel is off, there will be a set of copper coils and cooling fins that a fan will be blowing over. If either of the fins is clogged with dirt or debris, or the fan no longer works, the compressor won't send any cold air into the unit. These areas also need to be cleaned. Once done, plug it in and turn it on. If it still doesn't blow cold air, the compressor is bad, and you'll either have to call in a repair person, or get a new one.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may want to wear gloves since AC compressors can get extremely dirty.
  • Never work with any electrical appliance while it is still plugged in.

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