This a big question homeowners have about their air
conditioning systems. The compressor is the literal heart of an AC—it’s what
causes refrigerant to circulate through the air conditioner and applies the
energy to the refrigerant that allows it to change from gas to liquid and back
again. Without a compressor, an AC system is nothing more than a central fan
with no cooling ability. The compressor is an expensive part of the air
conditioner to replace, and conventional wisdom says it’s better to replace the
whole AC system rather than just the compressor.
This is true in some cases, but not in all. We’re going to
look at four paths you can take when the AC compressor dies.
Path 1: Replace the Compressor Only
This is worthwhile if the compressor is still under
warranty. Manufacturer warranties for parts and labor usually cover 10 years,
so a compressor that fails within that span is usually covered. Since you won’t
have to pay for the replacement and the rest of the air conditioner probably
has more productive years left, replacing the compressor alone is a good
Path 2: Replace the Condenser Unit Only
The condenser unit is the outdoor cabinet of the air
conditioning system. It houses the compressor, fan, and condenser coil. You can
choose to replace these parts and leave the indoor evaporator coil and air
handler components in place. This is the least popular of the options for
reasons we’ll explain in the next section. However, if you currently have a
tight budget and the AC is no longer under warranty, it’s a less costly choice
than a bigger replacement.
Path 3: Replace the Condenser Unit and Indoor Evaporator Coil
This is essentially replacing the air conditioner, and is a
common option for a system already 15 years or older. The rest of the HVAC
system stays in place (the air handler, the heater) but the essential indoor
and outdoor parts of the AC are replaced. This is beneficial for a few reasons.
First, you get a new warranty, which is a vital consumer protection. Second,
you avoid a mis-matched indoor/outdoor system, improving overall energy
efficiency and performance. Third, you can eliminate older R-22 refrigerant,
which is about to be phased out.
Path 4: Replace the Entire HVAC System
This is the whole shebang: replace the air conditioner, air
handler, and heater. A fresh start for home comfort with all the benefits
mentioned above. If the heating system (often a furnace) is old and probably
due for replacement soon, it’s cost-effective and time-saving to have it replaced
at the same time as the AC. You can also opt to have a heat pump replace both
the air conditioner and heater. We recommend looking into this if you have an
all-electric home—heat pumps are energy-savers compared to electric furnaces.
Please don’t jump to conclusions about a permanently busted compressor when your AC won’t work. First call our technicians for AC repair in Lake Worth, FL. If they determine the compressor is fried, they’ll assist you with making the choice for the next steps.
We have the coolest customers in town at First Response Air Conditioning & Refrigeration! Call us 24/7 for your cooling needs.