Commercial HVAC: Cooling System Maintenance and Compressor Failure

Your building’s cooling process begins with the compressor in its air conditioning unit. Heating and compressing gas that is then cooled by the condenser fan until it condensates on the condenser coil, a compressor is the most elementary component in an air conditioning system, and keeping it well maintained is a key to its longevity. But there eventually comes a time when maintenance isn’t enough. The compressor fails or has a serious problem, and needs to be replaced. If an HVAC technician recommends a new compressor for your building’s air conditioning unit, it will likely be for one of these reasons:

Compressors can become contaminated by air, debris, and moisture that enter the air conditioning system due to leaks, improperly serviced port valves, or failure to place an air conditioning system under a vacuum following maintenance. Contamination can cause a compressor to burn out.

Refrigerant Pressure
High refrigerant pressure can result from a blocked condenser coil – a scenario that causes the compressor to operate at a higher temperature than normal. Over time, a high operating temperature can lead to motor damage or burnout.

Refrigerant Flooding
Refrigerant flooding can result from overcharging the system with refrigerant – a particular risk with today’s hermetically sealed compressors. Over time, refrigerant flooding can damage a compressor’s components, causing it to break down prematurely.

Electrical Issues
Compressors can experience motor damage due to a variety of electrical issues, including:
• Fluctuating voltage levels at a home’s incoming mains,
• A voltage level supply that delivers the wrong voltage,
• Three-phase electrical hookups that deliver unbalanced current.

Mechanical Wear
Like all HVAC components, compressors eventually wear out due to use. When cooling system maintenance is performed properly, some compressors last decades. But a lifespan of roughly 15 years is considered standard.

Signs that Your Compressor is in Trouble
When compressors fail, building owners are suddenly faced with an absence of conditioned air – a situation that, in summer, allows no time to plan financially for HVAC work. To prevent this situation from happening, it pays to be aware of the signs that a compressor is in trouble. When a compressor is not operating properly, or is on the verge of failing, it may exhibit one or more of the following signs:

• Difficulty starting when head pressure is present
• Makes banking, clunking, hissing, or screaming noises during operation
• Working spaces are tepid instead of cool
• Fans kicks on but cool air is not produced

At Bardi Heating and Air Conditioning, we perform cooling system maintenance on commercial and residential compressors on a regular basis. If you feel that the compressor or another component in your air conditioning system is malfunctioning, let us examine the system as soon as possible. If you wait, the problem could cause wider system damage, and suddenly leave you without cool air.

Bardi has served residential and commercial HVAC customers in the greater Atlanta area for over 25 years. For HVAC maintenance, repairs, or replacements, speak with one of our North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certified technicians today.


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