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How a Bad Compressor Can Cause Problems for Your Heat Pump

Monday, March 10th, 2014 at 8:34 am

The compressor is the “heart” of both air conditioners and heat pumps. This component resembles a piston engine in operation. It places the refrigerant in the system under high pressure by compressing it. This raises the temperature of the refrigerant and turns it into a high-pressure gas. The change in pressure moves the gas along to the condensing coil (which may be either the indoor or outdoor coil in a heat pump depending on whether it’s in heating or cooling mode) to start the heat exchange process.

When the compressor goes bad in a heat pump, it will threaten the whole operation of the system. Heat pumps with bad compressors will need professional repairs, usually to replace the compressor. Call Next Generation Air & Heat Inc., any time of the day or night, when you need repairs for your heat pump in Merritt Island, FL.

Troubles from a bad compressor

A motor runs the compressor, and should this motor fail, the compressor will not work at all: refrigerant won’t run through the coils and the heat pump will not provide heating or cooling. If you don’t hear your compressor coming on at all, a broken compressor motor is probably behind it. (Listen also for screeching or groaning noises, an early warning of a failing motor.)

If the compressor wears down, usually because poor maintenance has gotten it dirty, it can stop working because of bad compressor bearings or contacts. In the former case, the outdoor fan will still start, but the rest of the heat pump won’t work. In the latter case, the heat pump will probably not start at all, although you may hear a humming noise from the cabinet. The compressor can also become overloaded from a bad relay, which will also cause the heat pump to fail to turn on.

Another problem that a failing compressor can cause is leaking refrigerant. Loose or broken connections to the compressor are one of the main places where a heat pump can lose refrigerant, which leads to icing over of the coils and a drop in power. Sometimes a technician can repair this without having to replace the compressor, but the refrigerant will need to be recharged to its regular level.

Seek professional diagnosis

All of the above heat pump problems—failing to turn on, no heat or cooling, only the outdoor fan runs, leaking refrigerant—can stem from malfunctions other than a bad compressor. To find out what is causing the trouble, you’ll need a technician trained in heat pump repair. Don’t try to troubleshoot the problem on your own.

Next Generation Air & Heat Inc. has extensive experience with repairs for heat pumps, so for your heat pump in Merritt Island, FL, call us—any time of the day or night—for quality service.

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