The compressor is the most essential component of your air conditioning system, since it is the one responsible for pumping the refrigerant around. When such an important part of your air conditioner burns out, we are faced with a difficult question – should we replace the compressor or replace the entire unit? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, so here are a few aspects you should consider that will help you make the right choice:
Is it under warranty?
Most units come with a 5- or 10-year warranty, which you should first verify before calling for a whole new replacement unit. If yours is still under warranty, it would make sense to contact your manufacturer and just get a replacement compressor. If it is no longer under warranty, a good tip is that if the estimated cost of replacing the compressor is over half the price of a new unit, you should consider fully replacing your HVAC system.
What’s the condition of the rest of the unit?
The next aspect to consider when deciding whether or not to fully replace your unit, is to perform a thorough inspection of its components and assess the rest of the parts, other than the compressor. If you find signs of corrosion, rust, cracks or leaks in the coils, frame or in any of the components, solely changing the compressor might not be the best long-term solution; you might want to consider getting a new unit.
A few extra tips…
If you decide to proceed with replacing your compressor, keep in mind that a flushing of the refrigerant system is absolutely necessary to secure a long-term solution and proper operation of the new compressor, and yet, 95% of contractors don’t do it. When your service professionals arrive, demand that they call you to watch when they are about to perform the flushing. This part might set the difference between wasting all your money and securing an adequate solution for your unit. Also, do bear in mind that even with proper installation and flushing, it is common for compressors to burnout again within the next 5 years due to previous contaminants generated from the burnout.
Compressors can fail for many reasons, but if you want to reduce the chances of yours burning out, remember that a few preventive measure can go a long way with your HVAC unit. Make sure you call for yearly inspections that will most likely catch potential problems in time and save you money in worse problems and repairs; also make sure you are giving your unit regular maintenance, changing filters and cleaning, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and you should not have to deal with issues with your air conditioner again.