What is an air con compressor and how does it work?

ARC licence number – AU54842

The component in an air con system that raises pressure in the vapour refrigerant and temperature is called an air con compressor. An air con compressor is a very essential part of an air conditioning unit and plays a vital role in making the system work. Its job is to circulate the refrigerant necessary for heat exchange through the coils of the air conditioner as well as applying energy to the refrigerant.

In a split-system air conditioning unit—the standard central air conditioning found in most homes – the compressor – is located in the outdoor unit. When you think of the air conditioner requiring power to provide cooling, you’re thinking of the electricity sent to run the compressor. Electricity also powers the fans, although they do not provide cooling on their own, and can operate in “fan only” mode.

A motor powers the compressor, which is itself constructed like a motor, with a cylinder and piston. The compressor compresses the gaseous refrigerant, and this raises the refrigerant’s temperature so that changes it into a high-pressure gas. The high pressure forces the refrigerant through a line that leads to the coil, where the refrigerant releases its heat and condenses into a liquid. The liquid refrigerant then continues its trip to the indoor unit, where the refrigerant evaporates into a gas again and absorbs the heat from inside your home. The refrigerant then returns to the compressor and the cycle starts again.

To enable air conditioning system to provide best performance, you need a fully functioning air con compressor. You will know if your unit’s compressor is bad when you notice the following:

  • Strange noises – when a compressor starts to break down, it will struggle to power on, resulting to strange noises.
  • Change in airflow temperature – This is another sign that your compressor needs replacing or repair, so keep an eye on the temperature of your home.
  • Leakage – A bad compressor can also cause leaks around the air conditioning unit. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful and potentially toxic, so if you see a leak and suspect it to be coming from the compressor, call your air con specialist immediately.

Compressors undergo a great deal of stress especially in the summer. Aside from the usual wear and tear, it is also exposed to dust, grime and other outdoor particles that can get stuck in its crevices that can cause malfunctions. It is important that it gets thoroughly checked regularly by your air con specialist to ensure that it is running smoothly.

Contact CLF Services today if you believe your air conditioning unit needs a service or repair.