The compressor is the heart of an air conditioning system. It’s the component that puts refrigerant under pressure so it will circulate and carry out the process of heat exchange that cools down a home. Without a working compressor, a central air conditioner is nothing more than a large central fan.
The compressor is also an expensive component to replace if it fails. The conventional wisdom is that when an AC’s compressor burns out, the best option is to have a new air conditioning system installed rather than pay to put in a new compressor. Is this true, and is it always the case? We’ll look at this more below.
The different options for when the AC compressor fails
In most cases, it’s better to replace an air conditioning system when the compressor fails. This is not only because the compressor is an expensive component, but because a compressor often fails when the AC is already close to or over its estimated service life.
To break this down, we’ll list the four different options you have when your AC’s compressor fails.
Replace only the compressor
If the compressor is still under warranty (most have 10-year warranties), then it’s probably best to have the compressor replaced when it fails. You’ll still have to pay for labor costs, but it’s a relatively small amount to get another five or more years from your AC.
Replace the condenser unit
This means replacing all of the outdoor components in the condenser cabinet: the compressor, the exhaust fan, and the condenser coil. This is less expensive than a full air conditioner replacement—but we rarely recommend it. Replacing only the compressor risks creating a mismatched system that’s inefficient and performs poorly. It also doesn’t come with a new warranty, giving you little protection against system failure.
Replace the air conditioner
Replacing the AC requires replacing both the outdoor unit and the indoor evaporator coil. The big advantage of going this route is that you’ll receive a new warranty with the system, giving you a fresh start with your home cooling and few worries about any factory faults. We recommend this in most cases where the compressor is no longer under warranty.
Replace the air conditioner and heater
You might want to take the opportunity when you replace the air conditioner to also replace the heating system. This is the most expensive option, but if your heating system is about the same age as the AC, it can end up saving you money in the long run. You may also want to consider replacing the air conditioner and the heater with a single installation: a heat pump. If you have an electric furnace, we’d recommend looking into a heat pump as your new installation.
If you think you need a new air conditioning installation in Castle Rock, CO because of a failed compressor, the best step is to contact our technicians. We’ll offer you an honest, professional assessment and help you make the ideal choice for your home comfort and budget.