How to tell if your home A/C compressor is bad: a Kansas City tech explains!

Is your AC system acting strange?

If so, you may be wondering if your compressor—one of the most important (and expensive) parts of your AC system—is on its way out.

Well, here’s our answer: If you notice any of these 4 signs, you may have a bad compressor:

  1. You hear strange noises coming from outdoor unit
  2. The outdoor unit vibrates when it turns on
  3. Your AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker
  4. You see refrigerant leaking from the compressor

Since the compressor is such an important part of your system, you’ll need to contact an AC professional ASAP if you notice any of those warning signs.

Need an AC professional to inspect your compressor?

Sign #1: You hear strange noises coming from your outdoor unit

Do you hear a ticking, rattling or clicking noise when you’re near your outdoor unit?

Loud noises like those are typically a sign that there is a loose component inside the compressor (like compressor motor mounts), but could also point to an electrical problem inside the compressor.

Sign #2: The outdoor unit vibrates when it turns on

Does your outdoor unit shake, shutter or vibrate when it turns on?

If so, your AC is “hard starting.” Hard starting is when your AC struggles to turn on, and then only stays on for a short time.

One of the causes of hard starting is the compressor itself.

Over time, the moving parts in the compressor motor can wear out and become brittle because the lubrication has dried up, which create extra strain on the compressor. This strain makes it hard for your AC to start normally, hence all the shaking and vibrations when your AC turns on.

Sign #3: Your AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker

If you notice that your AC circuit breaker keeps tripping when you turn on your AC, that could point to a bad compressor.

You see, when a compressor is starting to wear out or overwork itself, it can draw too much power, which causes the circuit breaker to trip to protect the rest of your AC system from electrical damage.

Note: If you do notice that your AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker, DO NOT keep resetting it—contact an AC professional for immediate help.

Sign #4: You see refrigerant leaking from the compressor

If you look into the inside of your outdoor unit and see puddles of moisture that smell like chemicals, it could be that refrigerant is leaking from the compressor.

An AC compressor in the outdoor unit. If you notice moisture around it, you’ll need to contact a pro ASAP.

Refrigerant is the liquid that circulates throughout your AC system to remove heat from your home’s warm indoor air. But refrigerant should only circulate in a closed loop—so if you find it leaking from your compressor, that leak is an issue.

You should only let a certified AC professional fix refrigerant leaks because refrigerant is a harmful substance to humans.

Need a Kansas City AC pro to take a look at your compressor?

We’ll send one of our certified techs to inspect your compressor and figure out what’s causing the issue.

Learn which cities we service in the Kansas City area.