6 Tips to Keep Your HVAC Compressor from Failing
HVAC Compressor Maintenance Tips
As a homeowner, you understand the importance of your HVAC Compressor and AC system: it heats and cools, cleans the air, and removes humidity on hot summer days. You often hear that maintenance saves you money, avoids repairs, and keeps the whole system running longer. All that is true: maintaining the whole system is more convenient and less expensive than repairs.
This article will focus on caring for the compressor—the workhorse of your system. HVAC Compressor failure is a catastrophic loss; compressor replacement often leads to AC replacement. Let’s take a look at what makes it critical and how to take care of it.
With heat pump technology, the compressor is used for both heating and cooling. The technology is based on gas science; when a gas is compressed, it heats and when the pressure is released, the gas cools. This is done at a predictable rate, so engineers make use of this science to accomplish a desired task.
As the name implies, the compressor compresses the gas and pushes it into the evaporator coil, where the gas pressure is released.
The blower motor is continuously moving air from your home through the evaporator chamber. Inside the evaporator chamber, this cold refrigerant gas completes three tasks simultaneously; cools the air in the evaporator chamber, removes humidity when the moisture condenses on the coil and absorbs heat from your home.
Now the hot gas moves outdoors to the condenser unit and the heat is released. During the winter, the same system works in reverse order; the gas picks up heat from outdoors and brings it inside.
HVAC Compressors generally fail when other components are under increased stress. Maintaining your compressor requires a few basic steps that you can accomplish and further steps that require a technician with professional equipment and training.
- Basic cleaning. Contaminants are the nemesis of any mechanical system. It is true of your car. It is true of your lawnmower. It is true of your computer. Your HVAC system is no different. Start by making sure to change your air filter on a regular schedule—every three months is enough for most settings. Use a garden hose and gently wash grime and dirt out of the condenser coil—the outdoor component. Ideally, you should clean your ductwork every three to five years.
- Professional Service. Develop a relationship with a local HVAC contractor and schedule an annual PM visit for your system. A qualified technician will ascertain the condition of your compressor and other components. Professional equipment is required to measure gas pressure and recharge the system if pressure is low.
- Recharging the system. A loss of cooling capacity (or heating capacity in the winter) might be an indication of low gas pressure. The refrigerant gas is kept in a closed system of copper or aluminum tubes, so low pressure indicates a leak. Before the technician can recharge the system, the leak will need to be repaired. Since some refrigerant gases pose a danger to the environment, 33all refrigerant gases are highly regulated. A professional license is required to handle these gases.
- Clean the evaporator coils. Dirty coils can lead to a loss of cooling capacity, gaining access to the coils requires accessing the central air unit. While the cabinet is open, the technician will also clean the evaporator drain pan and make sure the drain line is open.
- Inspect electrical controls, sensors, and wiring. Even a small amount of dust can interfere with the sensitive control mechanisms. This investigation can detect electrical components that are under stress and subject to imminent failure.
- Repair the compressor as needed. The lubrication for the compressor is in a closed system and when the system is compromised it will need to be repaired and lubed again. Your technician will have the correct parts available and the necessary skill to make repairs.
The best way to take care of your HVAC Compressor is to maintain the whole system. A preventative maintenance plan can keep your HVAC Compressor, and therefore, your entire HVAC system viable for years to come.
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