AC Compressor Smoking When AC Is On: 5 Simple Steps to Take

Is your AC compressor smoking when AC is on? This easy guide will provide steps on how to address this issue.

AC Compressor Smoking When AC Is On

Step 1: Turn Off Your AC Unit

The moment you notice smoke, act immediately by turning off your air conditioner. This precaution minimizes the risk of fire, electrical damage, and other hazards. To turn off your unit, locate the thermostat and switch it to the ‘off’ position.

However, to ensure the unit has no power, also turn off the circuit breaker linked to your AC system. This is usually found in a metal panel box in your basement, garage, or utility area. Inside, you’ll find switches labeled according to which part of your home they control. Flip the one labeled ‘AC’ or ‘HVAC’ to the off position.

It is crucial to ensure that no power is going to the unit before proceeding with any inspections.

Step 2: Locate the Source of the Smoke

With the unit safely powered down, begin a visual inspection to verify that the smoke is coming from the compressor. The compressor is typically located in the outdoor condenser unit. It can be identified by the refrigerant lines that run into it and the large fan that sits atop the condenser unit. It’s encased in a metal housing which should have some openings or fins — look here for signs of smoke or soot.

Be sure to maintain a safe distance as you observe, and do not open the unit yourself. Confirming the source is the compressor and not another part of the AC unit is vital. This is because it informs the next steps in your troubleshooting process.

Step 3: Evaluate the Severity of the Smoke

Assessing the smoke’s characteristics can help determine the potential cause and severity of the issue. If the smoke is white and dissipates quickly, it could simply be steam from condensation. Such can occur when a unit is turned on after a long period or if the outside temperature is cool. This is often harmless.

However, if the smoke is thick and dark or has a blue or grey tint, it indicates burning and is a significant concern. Notice any odors accompanying the smoke: a burning electrical smell could suggest an electrical fault. On the other hand, a sweet, chloroform scent might indicate a refrigerant leak. The amount and color of the smoke, along with any associated smells, should be noted to relay to a professional technician.

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Step 4: Inspect for Common Causes of Compressor Smoke

Several issues could cause your compressor to smoke. Check for any visible signs of oil around the compressor; this could suggest a leak. Oil leaks can cause smoke when the oil contacts hot components.

Inspect for any evidence of burnt or frayed wires, which might be the result of an electrical failure. If you observed or heard any sparking noises or the smell of burning plastic before the smoke appeared, it’s likely an electrical issue.

Other mechanical failures, such as a seized motor, can cause the compressor to overheat and smoke. Remember not to touch anything inside the unit; just perform a visual inspection and leave the physical diagnostic work to professionals.

Step 5: Call an HVAC Professional

After your initial assessment, it is strongly advised to contact a professional HVAC technician for a thorough inspection and repair. Handling refrigerants, electrical repairs, or internal AC components can be extremely dangerous. Proper training and equipment are needed for such inspections and repairs.

A certified technician will be able to safely determine the cause of the smoke. They can determine whether it’s a refrigerant issue, an electrical failure, or a mechanical problem with the compressor itself. Furthermore, they can provide a safe and effective repair.

When you call, provide them with the information you’ve gathered. Explain what you saw, the type and color of the smoke, and any smells or noises that occurred. This will help them prepare for the job and provide a quicker resolution.

In some cases, depending on how severe the issue is, you might have to replace the AC unit. If you need to replace your AC unit, then you can check out this LG LP1022FVSM 10,000 BTU DUAL Inverter Smart Portable Air Conditioner if it meets your needs.

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