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AC Compressor Failure (How to Avoid It)

During hurricane season, Birmingham residents experience severe weather, which includes heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. Winter storms are also sometimes an issue here, even in the South. Strong winds, intense rain, and heavy snow and ice leave you, your home and your air conditioner vulnerable to extensive damage, as do some everyday issues. Your AC compressor is the most expensive component in your air conditioner. If it’s damaged, AC compressor failure costs a great deal to correct.

Keep safe by taking precautions when big storms roll through, and year-round. Call Douglas Cooling & Heating if you are concerned your AC compressor or air conditioner is damaged due to storms and other issues.

Our NATE-certified professionals are trained to spot inconsistencies with your AC compressor and ensure it’s operating smoothly after sustaining damage. If the AC compressor is too far gone, we will suggest replacement options to fit your budget. We also provide you with financing options.

Prevent AC Compressor Failure Before the Storm Hits

Take preventive steps before a hurricane or other storm hits your home. Early prevention will help keep your home and AC compressor safe against damage from winds and excessive rainfall.

  • Begin by turning the power off to your air conditioner. In the event of a storm, power outages and surges are common, which can fry the AC compressor or start an electrical fire.
  • Air conditioners running when a storm occurs are at risk to experience blown circuits and fuses when the power returns. This can lead to AC compressor failure.
  • When the power is off, you reduce the risk of damage to your AC compressor and other vital components inside the exterior unit.
  • Many homeowners think covering their outdoor unit is enough to protect it. If the storm isn’t a hurricane, however, a tarp can do more harm than good. Using a tarp during regular storm activity causes moisture to build up inside your equipment, which leads to mold and rust.
  • Hurricane weather is the ideal time to cover your exterior unit with a tarp. This protects the AC compressor against the intense winds and rain. Just make sure you uncover your equipment soon after the storm passes to prevent moisture accumulating inside on wiring, circuits and the AC compressor.

Proper Lawn Care Protects Against AC Compressor Failure

Intense winds blow debris, such as tree limbs, branches, and yard waste, across your property and hit your outdoor equipment. Damage can occur on the components inside your unit, including the AC compressor and condenser.

Taking care of your lawn properly promotes a healthy outdoor unit and reduces the need for an emergency HVAC cleaning from a professional. Easy ways you can properly perform yard work while increasing your HVAC unit’s performance efficiency and lifespan include:

  • When mowing the yard, keep the discharge pointed away from the outdoor unit, preventing grass from blowing into the unit and clogging the coil. You can also install a bag attachment to your mower to reduce the amount of leftover grass clippings.
  • After mowing, gently hose the condenser unit off to remove any excess debris clinging to the coil which might restrict airflow.
  • Trim back any shrubs or vegetation around the unit, so there’s at least 2-3 feet of clearance on all sides. Gather up the clippings and dispose of them so they don’t accumulate on the coil.
  • When using yard equipment, like a weed eater, be cautious around the outdoor unit. You can accidentally bend the coil fins, damage tubing and cause a refrigerant leak or cut important wires. The best option is to hand pull weeds or spray them with herbicides.
  • Lastly, remove any loose objects from your yard. Lawn furniture, toys, bikes or other objects can be destructive when the wind picks them up and blows against your AC compressor.

Effects of Poor Lawn Care Maintenance

Poor lawn care maintenance can produce disastrous results with your heating and cooling system and lead to higher energy costs and malfunctions from your outdoor unit. Examples of improper lawn care include:

  • Allowing tall, uncut grass to grow around your outdoor unit which interferes with the airflow and reduces your unit’s ability to cool your home efficiently.
  • Leaving grass clippings and stray leaves around your unit, which can form a clog at the bottom, restricting airflow in your outdoor unit.
  • Out of control vegetation growing around your outdoor unit will restrict airflow and damage the concrete pad the unit is on.
  • Twigs and branches falling on the condenser fan can damage the fins or get wedged within the fan blades, preventing them from working properly.

Build Protection for Your AC Compressor

In addition to storm preparation and proper yard work practices, there are a few additional measures that help protect your system against AC compressor failure. These measures reduce damage to the unit and enhance overall protection:

#1 Create Shade

The most important landscaping tip is adequate shading for your outdoor unit. The outdoor unit houses the AC compressor, which can easily overheat during the hottest part of the day or if placed in direct sun. Creating shade for your outdoor unit allows heat to dissipate faster from the AC compressor and condenser, preventing your unit from overheating.

The heat emitted from the AC compressor and other components in the outdoor unit can lead to complete system failure if the unit isn’t able to cool off. Typically, the outdoor unit is built to handle the outdoor elements and providing extra shade will boost your HVAC’s ability to keep you cool indoors.

#2 Create a Barrier

Heat penetrates your home through the roof of your home, which raises the temperature indoors quickly. Your roof is the first place direct sunlight hits and with the aid of tall trees, you can provide shade against the sun. By planting tall trees around your house, especially on the side where the sun hits your house most often, you can drastically reduce your energy bills. Trees on the east and west sides of your home are prime locations to block direct sunlight during the early hours of the day and late afternoon hours.

Evergreen trees are popular for shading and for boosted energy savings, consider planting deciduous trees with broad leaves. Deciduous trees will provide shade during the summer, and in the winter when the leaves fall, the trees will allow direct sunlight to hit your home, providing warmth when you need it.

If you want another alternative to planting trees for shade, consider building a trellis along the exterior walls where vines can grow. The vines will coat your exterior walls, creating a barrier between the direct sunlight and your home.  

Pro Tip: Remember to preserve space of approximately 1-3 feet around your outdoor AC units. Allowing shrubbery or other plantings to grow too close may hamper the airflow, negatively affecting your unit’s efficiency. Also, remember to clear away any leaves and debris from the unit following storm activity.

#3 Create Breezes

Trees providing shade for your AC compressor, condenser, and other outdoor unit components provide an additional benefit. During the summer, cool breezes float in at night, and the trees will catch the cool breezes, pushing them toward your windows.

Even shrubs play a role in capturing and controlling the breeze. By planting shrubs under windows, the wind is pulled up and works with nearby trees to push the breeze down. Make sure shrubs aren’t planted too close to your exterior walls, which can create moisture problems when the humidity is high.

Cooling your house off at night, when the sun is down, let your air conditioner have a break from operating all day to maintain ideal temperatures in your home. The AC compressor and condenser will be able to cool off, and heat will fully dissipate before cooling your home the next day.

Time for an AC Compressor Inspection, Cleaning, or Possible Repair

If you notice damage to your outdoor unit or debris caught inside. Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating to have your outdoor unit cleaned properly. A thorough air conditioning maintenance inspection detects AC compressor failure and other damage, and allows our NATE-certified technicians to repair the damaged component immediately. The cost to have your HVAC unit cleaned is nothing compared to the expense of a breakdown of your unit when temperatures are running hot outside. 

HVAC cleaning by a Douglas Cooling & Heating technician keeps your system healthy and prolongs its lifespan. A clean outdoor unit also experiences boosted performance and efficiency, saving you monthly on your energy bill.

Ensure your air conditioning unit is safe from the storms by calling Douglas Cooling & Heating before you start your cooling system back up. Turning on your unit after a storm hits without scheduling an inspection can be disastrous, especially if it’s sustained electrical damage.

We train our NATE-certified technicians to inspect and diagnose potential problems after a storm. We will ensure your system is safe to operate, so you can rest easy and stay cool inside your home.

Hurricane-generated intense wind and heavy rain are here through November, so your HVAC equipment needs extra protection. Concerned about your AC compressor? Call Douglas Cooling & Heating. We’re here for you before and after the season’s storms.

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