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Douglas Cooling & Heating Blog


Many things can interfere with an AC compressor’s performance and efficiency during the summer months. Flying rocks from lawn mowers, damaging wind or hail during storms or overgrown plant life near the exterior unit are just a few examples of what can harm your cooling system. Some problems might be small, which means they can be repaired quickly at an affordable price.

However, the AC compressor housed in your outdoor unit is vital to the performance of your entire system. If the AC compressor overheats or fails, it’s an expensive HVAC repair or component to replace. Douglas Cooling & Heating wants you to know the basics of caring for your outdoor unit so you can protect the AC compressor against expensive damage.

Outdoor HVAC Equipment Can Help or Hinder Your Comfort

The exterior unit of your HVAC system is responsible for pulling warm air in and cooling it off, using refrigerant and evaporator coils. The AC compressor works to compress the refrigerant and deliver it throughout the unit. All outdoor units are designed to withstand Mother Nature’s temperamental weather, but it doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Protect your AC compressor and the other components in your exterior system by:

Keeping It Clean

When you mow, grass clippings spray out across your yard and, most times, the clippings get lodged inside your exterior unit. Grass clippings combined with dirt, dust, leaves and other debris accumulate on and around your outdoor AC unit. Debris restricts airflow around the unit. Dirty air conditioner coils cause your AC compressor to work harder to facilitate heat exchange, which places the compressor under excessive stress.

The AC compressor needs proper ventilation around the exterior unit to cool off between cycles. When an outdoor unit can’t cool off, it overheats and shuts off. Frequent overheating results in the unit failing, and the only option is to call for Birmingham air conditioning repair service to replace the component. Prevent overheating by clearing away any debris. Call Douglas Cooling & Heating if you notice the outdoor unit working hard but not able to cool down.

Change your air filter regularly to maintain proper airflow through your cooling system – keeping all of the system’s key components, including the compressor, in good working order.

Landscaping Wisely

Your outdoor unit needs room to breathe, which means two feet of space around the unit at all times. Trees, bushes and shrubs grow quickly during the summer, especially when the rain hits. They can quickly overrun your exterior unit and restrict proper airflow for the AC compressor. Trim any vegetation back to at least two feet away from the outdoor equipment. Protective shade helps your AC compressor cool down between cooling cycles.

If your home’s exterior unit was already installed when you moved into the house, make sure there are two feet of space between the HVAC equipment and the side of your house. If it looks like the system is too close to the house, call Douglas Cooling & Heating quickly! Our NATE-certified technicians offer suggestions to improve airflow and prevent the system from overheating.

Creating Protective Shade

Always install your outdoor unit in shade or indirect sun. Any time your outdoor equipment is shaded against the hot sun, the AC compressor can cool off before restarting to deliver cool temperatures throughout your home. If you don’t have tall trees or shrubs near your exterior unit, consider planting something to provide additional protection against direct sunlight.

The best sort of foliage is deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves each winter and blooms in the spring. Trees with big leaves provide adequate shade during the hottest times of the day, and when the weather changes, the leaves fall, letting direct sunlight shine on the exterior unit when it’s cold outside. The right landscaping can boost your AC compressor performance and keep it healthy longer.

Checking for leaking refrigerant

Over time, the refrigerant line can develop cracks, which can lead to a leak. A leak lowers the refrigerant level and causes the compressor to work harder, which can eventually damage it. Fixing this issue as soon as possible can prevent you from replacing this expensive part.

Protect your AC compressor from summer storms

Turn the AC off

Before a summer storm or hurricane hits, turn off the entire AC system. This prevents damage to the AC compressor if a power outage occurs. Outages can cause circuits to blow when the power turns back on. Leave the AC off until the storm has passed.

Cover the exterior unit

In the most severe weather, covering the outdoor unit with a tarp will stop water and other harmful debris from getting inside and damaging the AC compressor. 

Keep the unit clean

After the storm, check the unit for damage from falling tree branches, leaves, sticks or other debris.

Maintaining Your AC

Hiring a reputable HVAC technician to routinely maintain your AC system will keep your compressor in good shape for years to come. Aside from cleaning the coils and checking the refrigerant levels, a routine maintenance will also address:

  • Oil levels. Oil lubrication is vital to the function of your AC compressor. A technician will change the oil and make sure it’s at the right level.
  • Suction lines. The suction line is responsible for transporting the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser. HVAC technicians can check that the line is clear. If the AC isn’t cooling well, the line could be blocked, which can cause the compressor to overheat and break down.
  • Electrical issues. Routine maintenance will also inspect to see if there are any electrical issues that can damage the compressor.

Concerned about Your AC Compressor? Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating in Birmingham

Take steps to protect your exterior HVAC unit and you will notice improved performance and more energy efficiency from your AC compressor. The compressor is durable but needs to be serviced at least twice a year during routine maintenance. Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating to schedule service for your AC compressor before the heat waves start rolling.

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