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AC Compressor Not Turning On

AC Compressor Not Turning On

When you’re in the middle of a sweltering summer, the last thing you want is for your AC compressor to stop working. The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system, and if it’s not turning on, your home will quickly become uncomfortable.

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There are a variety of reasons why your AC compressor is not turning on, ranging from simple issues like a tripped circuit breaker to more complex problems like a faulty capacitor or compressor motor. In this blog post, we’ll explore the common reasons why your AC compressor is not working as intended and provide tips on what you can do to get your air conditioning system back up and running.

What Is an AC Compressor?

what is an ac compressor and how does it work

An air conditioning compressor is a vital component found in an AC unit that takes care of cooling the air. This part takes all of the hot air that’s in your home or apartment. It then transfers it outside using the cooling agent known as refrigerant.

Here’s how an AC compressor works. When it’s hot, refrigerant is in a gaseous state, but it transforms into a liquid when it becomes cold. The AC compressor provides the pressure necessary for the refrigerant to change from gas to liquid, and the compressor unit disperses the liquid refrigerant throughout the system. When air blows on the refrigerant, it cools down, which is how the air inside your home becomes colder, despite the hot air outside.

So when the AC compressor is not kicking on, that usually means you will not get the cool air as expected. In fact, there are many signs that this piece might be malfunctioning before you truly need a replacement. A simple tune-up might still be possible!

Related: AC Thermostat – The Complete Guide

Signs That Your AC Compressor Is Malfunctioning

As you can see, an AC compressor is a vital component of your air conditioner. Without it, the hot air can’t be properly cooled down. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs that your AC compressor is malfunctioning. In this section, we’ll discuss some of these signs.

1. High Energy Costs

When an AC compressor is malfunctioning, it runs for an extended period to get out less cold air. This typically happens when an expert installer hasn’t set up the AC compressor or if there are issues with your electrical systems. Not only does this waste money, but it also contributes to climate change. So make sure to pay attention to your energy bill. If there isn’t an easy explanation for the increased energy cost, the problem is likely your compressor. 

Tired of high energy costs but can’t afford a new AC compressor? Don’t panic. Instead, explore the vast array of HVAC financing options that we provide here at Performance AC.

2. Strange AC Sounds

Your air conditioning unit is bound to make some noise. But there’s a big difference between some normal humming and strange sounds. If you notice rattling or the system turning on and off frequently, it’s time to call a professional AC repair technician. 

When an AC compressor is not kicking on as it should, it’s likely due to a worn-down part. Sometimes the solution lies in a quick AC compressor tune-up. Other times, you will need to replace the part entirely.

3. Refrigerant Leak

When a compressor is no longer working at peak capacity, it will begin dispersing too much of the refrigerant. This, in turn, causes it to drip out of the AC unit. If you notice liquid coming down from your air conditioner, it’s a clear sign that your compressor will need to be repaired or replaced. 

4. Weak Airflow

If you notice weak airflow or reduced cooling from your compressor, it may indicate slight damage. While it may gradually get weaker, catching it early enough can allow for repair rather than replacement.

5. Warm Air or Hot Condenser Unit

When your compressor is completely cooked, it will start spewing out warm air instead of cool air. In some cases, it might even cause the AC compressor not turning on at all. When this happens, you will likely need to replace the whole thing. There isn’t much that can be done in terms of repairs. 

Related: How To Improve The Air Quality Of Your Home: A Quick And Easy Guide

Home AC Compressor Not Turning On? – Common Issues

inside and air conditioner view of the fan blades and ac compressor

When your AC compressor is not turning on, oftentimes your AC is not working either. There can be multiple reasons why your AC compressor isn’t operating correctly. Some of the common problems that we encounter include things like:

  • The compressor is shutting down for safety reasons to prevent further damage
  • The compressor has a dirty filter
  • The compressor has a dirty condenser coil
  • The refrigerant levels are slightly off
  • The compressor’s capacitor failed
  • You’re experiencing electrical problems
  • Your thermostat is broken
  • Your wiring is bad

In some instances, these points can be easy to self-diagnose. A dirty filter for example is both easy to find and to remedy. Some more technical issues like a capacitator failure or electrical problems can be a little trickier to identify. If you cannot really see what is wrong, hiring a professional might be safer.


Some solutions to these problems will be pretty straightforward and there are a few things you can do yourself. For example, we recommend:

  • Replacing the air filters
  • Checking the thermostat and replacing if necessary
  • Making sure AC refrigerant levels are appropriate
  • Cleaning the condenser coil

However, if you don’t know how to fix the problem, or you don’t even know what the problem is, then you should contact a professional. Don’t attempt to fix electrical issues yourself 

Are you tired of your AC not working? Contact Performance AC to get the help you need to be cool again.

AC Compressor Replacement Cost

In the eventuality that you need a replacement, the most frequently asked question is “How Much is an AC Compressor?”. The cost of an AC compressor varies greatly depending on the brand of your air conditioner, the model, and the capacity of the compressor itself. Replacing an AC compressor can be a costly expense, with new AC compressors costing roughly $1,500. While it may be worth it to replace this part, determining whether to repair or replace a central AC system depends on various factors.

It’s crucial to consult professionals like Performance AC to make an informed decision. Our team of experts will evaluate your system and provide you with the best solution to meet your needs and budget. Don’t let a faulty AC compressor compromise your home’s comfort.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and ensure your AC is running efficiently.

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