Even when your home's central air conditioning unit is running constantly, you may have noticed that your house is no longer staying as cool as it should. You may also find that the temperature of the air coming out of your vents alternates between cold and warm. If so, there is a good possibility that the unit's compressor is starting to fail. If you suspect that this may be the case, look for the following signs.
1. Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
One possible sign that your home's central AC unit has a bad compressor is that it keeps tripping the circuit breaker. Whenever the compressor kicks on, it flips the switch, making it necessary for you to reset it.
Whenever a compressor starts failing, it can start to overheat. Because of the increased effort to cool your house, an energy surge is created, which then flips the safety mechanism and causes the breaker to turn off to prevent an electrical fire or burnout.
However, a circuit breaker that continuously trips could also be a sign of an electrical issue within the unit or a failing blower motor. No matter the cause, if your breaker keeps switching off, you should switch off your air conditioner and have it looked at by an AC professional.
2. Unit Shakes Violently Whenever It Kicks On
Another sign that your AC unit's compressor is starting to go bad is violent shaking whenever the compressor kicks on. This shaking is caused by hard starting, which happens when the compressor has to work harder to turn on and operate.
When the compressor first starts to fail, you may only see slight shaking or hear rattling when it starts up. However, as the problem becomes progressively worse, the shaking will increase, and the noises will become louder. Eventually, the unit will hard start every time the compressor turns on, which is hard on the entire unit and could cause further damage to the compressor or adjacent parts.
The difficulty may lie in the compressor's inability to push the refrigerant through the lines, or there may be air inside of the compressor. If there is air inside the lines, this means that there is a crack or hole somewhere within the compressor. Since the lines are a closed system, an opening is the only way for the air to get inside.
3. Puddles Form Outside of the AC Unit
If there is a crack or hole in the compressor, you will probably find puddles forming on the outside of the air conditioning unit. At first, you may think that these are simply puddles of water caused by condensation. However, if the fluid has a sickly sweet odor to it, it is refrigerant that is leaking from the compressor or coolant lines. When there is a leak, there is not enough refrigerant for the compressor to do its job of cooling itself and your home. Eventually, if left at low levels, the compressor may burn up and break down completely.
The leaking refrigerant is not only hazardous to the AC unit itself, but it also can lead to refrigerant poisoning if you or someone else is exposed to it. If you find puddles around the unit, keep everyone away from them, and contact a repair service as soon as possible.
If you notice any of the above signs, there is a good chance that your home's AC unit is starting to go bad. If so, take action before the compressor fails by contacting an HVAC contractor who offers air conditioning repair services so that they can inspect the unit and fix any problems they may find.