The short answer is that your AC compressor and refrigerant should last about 12-15 years, roughly the same as your AC. Learning about these two crucial components, and how to maintain them, can keep your AC running efficiently for its entire lifespan.
Your AC compressor is at the core of your air conditioner and is critical to removing heat from the air. Refrigerant chemicals enter the compressor as a cool gas, which the compressor squeezes at a very high pressure, heating the gas.
Then the gas runs through condensing coils and allows the heat to dissipate outside. It is in the condensing of the humidity indoors that creates a comfortable environment.
Common Issues with Compressors
With proper maintenance your AC compressor should last over a decade with little issue, but here are some of the issues that can arise without routine care.
- Lack of Lubrication. Low lubricant levels, or leaks, can lead to inefficiency or failure.
- System Contamination. High heat and pressure can introduce contaminants detrimental to the system like air, moisture, dirt, and acids.
- Electrical Problems. Overheating and failure can result from imbalances in voltage or current.
- Low Refrigerant Charge. Leaks can cause an insufficient flow of refrigerant, cutting into the time your compressor should last by making it work harder.
Repair or Replace?
Often an AC compressor’s failure will lead to the replacement of the entire system. However, with maintenance, AC compressors last for a long time. It’s worth maintaining your AC compressor because it is the most expensive component to replace in your AC.
This means that if the above issues cannot be resolved, it can be more economical to invest in a new AC unit than repairing your existing unit.
What is Refrigerant?
Refrigerant is a chemical that transports heat from the coil at the furnace indoors to the condensing unit outdoors. Manufacturers equip AC units with the amount of refrigerant they will need for their entire lifespan.
The only time you should need to add refrigerant is if there is a leak or if the refrigerant lines joining the outdoor unit to the coil indoors is uncommonly long (over 50 feet).
Bubbling, or hissing noises near refrigerant lines, ice on refrigerant lines, high electric bills, and an AC blowing warm or hot air may indicate a refrigerant leak. Do not attempt to fill refrigerant yourself as it is an extremely dangerous material.
Instead contact a ClimateCare professional to find and repair the leak. The leak must be found and fixed before the refrigerant is refilled, otherwise the problem will occur again. The refrigerant is in a closed loop and should never run low unless there is a leak.
If you would like to know more about how proper maintenance of your compressor and refrigerant can help your AC last longer, contact us today.