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What Are the Symptoms of a Bad AC Compressor?

Warm air circulating, repeat circuit breaker trips, unusual noises and high electricity bills are all possible symptoms of a bad AC compressor. A broken compressor prevents your AC unit from doing its job. As a crucial part of your air conditioner’s cooling system, when your compressor breaks, you can expect warmer temperatures throughout your home.

Symptoms of a Broken Compressor

A hot home is a good reason to get to the bottom of your compressor chaos before it disturbs your comfort even more. Your compressor is at higher risk for breaking down or malfunctioning as it gets older, and that means it won't cool your home efficiently. Here are three main signs your compressor is breaking down.

Air Conditioner Blowing Warm Air

Your compressor is responsible for moving the refrigerant through your system to help cool the air in your home. When it fails to do its job, your home won’t keep cool. Since a broken compressor is unable to chill the hot air moving through your system, one sign to keep an eye out for is warm air blowing from your vents.

Loud noises

Clicking, clacking, squealing, and whacking are all sounds that can make your stomach sink. Hearing any of these coming from your AC system as it runs? It could be a problem with your compressor.

Your compressor has many moving parts. It works hard to keep your home cool, and in the process, mechanical moving parts wear out over time. Listen closely, if the sound of your operating system changes, it may be worth a service call to prevent small issues from becoming big problems.


Refrigerant systems are complex. They operate at pressures up to 500 psi (pounds per square inch). Vibration generated from a running mechanical machine is also a factor. Though designed to handle such conditions, a refrigerant leak may still occur. Signs of a refrigerant leak could be water around your indoor evaporator unit, oil residue on any component of the system (remember that oil circulates with the refrigerant as it moves through the system, if oil is getting out, so is the refrigerant) and ice formation on any component of the system.

Other Symptoms to Look For

AC compressors don’t have a one-size-fits-all fix. These less obvious symptoms can help you find out if your compressor really is to blame:

  • Loud unusual noises

  • Tripped circuit breaker

  • Higher electricity bill

Still Unsure?

Still unsure if your compressor’s the problem? Call your local HVAC technician to help you test your AC compressor and solve your indoor weather woes.

Let's Get It Fixed!

HomeX virtual experts will assess your issue (for free!) and can resolve simple problems.

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