Why AC Compressor Gets Hot: 5 Common Reasons & Easy Fixes

In this article, we’ll discuss common reasons why AC compressor gets hot and how to fix this issue.

Why AC Compressor Gets Hot
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Why AC Compressor Gets Hot

An overheating AC compressor can compromise your cooling system’s effectiveness. To address this issue correctly, it’s crucial to understand the potential reasons why AC compressor gets hot. The following sections outline common causes and provide targeted solutions.

Inadequate Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is the lifeblood of your AC system. It operates in a closed loop, absorbing heat from your home’s interior and releasing it outside. When the levels are low, either due to leaks or incorrect charging, the compressor must work overtime.

This extra labor increases energy consumption and causes the compressor to overheat due to the strain. Refrigerant leaks can occur at connection points, within the coils. It can even occur at the compressor itself, often evidenced by an oily residue in the area of the leak.

Detecting and Solving Refrigerant Issues

To detect refrigerant issues, look for:

Ice buildup on the refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil inside the air handler.

Hissing or bubbling noises indicate a refrigerant leak.

If you suspect a refrigerant issue, it’s essential to:

Call a certified HVAC technician to use specialized tools to locate and repair the leak, and then properly recharge the system according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Avoid using the system until the issue is resolved, as running the AC with low refrigerant can cause further damage.

Poor Ventilation

Your AC compressor requires proper ventilation to dissipate the heat it generates. If the compressor unit, typically located outdoors, is surrounded by high grass, debris, or is covered, the restricted airflow can lead to overheating.

Moreover, the fan inside the outdoor unit, which helps expel heat by pulling air through the condenser coil, must function correctly. If the fan fails due to a faulty motor, dirt buildup, or electrical issues, the lack of airflow will cause the compressor to heat up.

Enhancing Ventilation

To enhance ventilation, ensure the following steps are taken:

Keep the area around the outdoor unit clear of vegetation and debris.

Regularly inspect the fan blades for cleanliness and damage, and clean or replace them as needed.

Check the fan motor and associated capacitors. If the fan isn’t running at full speed or at all, these components may need repair or replacement. This should be done by a professional.

Electrical Failures

Electrical failures can cause an AC compressor to overheat rapidly. These can be the result of frayed wires, a corroded contactor, or a faulty start capacitor. Each of these components is crucial for the compressor’s electrical supply and startup process.

Frayed wires can disrupt the current, leading to overheating. A corroded contactor may prevent the compressor from starting correctly. It can also cause it to cycle on and off too frequently. Finally, a faulty capacitor can fail to provide the necessary startup boost.

Addressing Electrical Issues

To address electrical issues:

Inspect electrical connections during routine maintenance or if you notice any burning smells or unusual noises.

Engage an HVAC professional to test components like capacitors and contactors with a multimeter like this AstroAI Multimeter Tester and replace them as needed.

Ensure that all electrical repairs adhere to local codes and safety standards, as improper handling can lead to more severe issues or personal injury.

Check out these other articles…

AC Compressor vs Capacitor: Comprehensive 411 Comparison

AC Compressor vs Motor: Comprehensive 411 Comparison

AC Compressor vs Evaporator: Comprehensive 411 Comparison

AC Compressor Noise When On: 7 Simple Steps to Fix It

AC Compressor Makes Noise When Clutch Engages: 4 Easy Fixes

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

Why AC Compressor Won’t Turn On: 8 Reasons & Easy Fixes

Dirty Condenser Coils

The condenser coils have an important job. They release the absorbed heat from your home to the outside air. When they’re coated in dirt, dust, or grime, their efficiency in transferring heat plummets.

This causes the compressor to run hotter in an attempt to compensate for the reduced heat release. As a result, this not only strains the compressor but can lead to increased energy costs. In addition, it can lead to reduced overall life span of the system.

Cleaning Condenser Coils

To clean condenser coils:

Shut off power to the unit to ensure safety.

Use a soft brush to gently remove debris from the coils.

Apply a no-rinse coil cleaner available at hardware stores, following the manufacturer’s instructions closely.

For preventative maintenance, perform this cleaning at least once a year or more frequently if the unit is in a dusty environment.

Excessive High Pressure Within System

High pressure within your AC system can be a sign of several underlying issues. Examples of such issues include an overcharged refrigerant system, a blockage in the refrigerant lines, or malfunctioning components like the expansion valve or filter drier. When pressure mounts, the compressor is subjected to additional stress. This causes an increase in its operating temperature and the risk of overheating.

Managing System Pressure

To manage high pressure in the system:

Seek a professional HVAC technician to measure system pressure with gauges and compare it to manufacturer-recommended levels.

Have blockages cleared and faulty components replaced to ensure the refrigerant can flow correctly.

Regular system maintenance is crucial to preventing pressure issues from developing.

Leave a Comment