Air Conditioner Compressor and Condenser Issues

There are times when an air conditioner (AC) works too well, to the point of freezing the components inside. Whether due to operator error from running the AC for too long at maximum cold settings or failure in the parts inside, you may find yourself with frozen refrigerant lines or a completely bricked (frozen and broken) compressor. As you look through your options, consider a few inspection and testing measures that you could take to get to the bottom of the issue.

How Does the Condenser and Compressor System Work?

The compressor in an air conditioning unit is responsible for changing cool, low-pressure gasses into a higher pressure gas that the condenser can work with. From there, the gas goes into a condenser, which changes the high-pressure gas into a very cool liquid. The liquid is then sent to an evaporator, which turns the cool liquid into a cool vapor to be distributed through the air conditioning unit.

These components are relatively easy to troubleshoot, but takes some skill to access through taking the air conditioning apart. To at least witness a problem, you can turn off the air conditioning for safety and remove the side panel and protective grates to expose some of the components.

If you see ice or frost, but haven't felt any cool air, you likely have a problem elsewhere in the system. Either the refrigerant line is frozen over from sending too much cool liquid at once (or a possible clog), or there's air supply blockages or leaks in the rest of the system.

If none of the components are getting cold at all, there's an issue with the compressor and condenser assembly. You'll want a contractor to perform a Megger test, which tests the electrical resistance of the condenser and can tell the contractor if the condenser (or the entire air conditioning unit) needs to be replaced or not.

If There's Frost, There's Hope

The appearance of frost on the air conditioning unit seems worse than seeing nothing at all, but it's an indication of something working. 

Frost is usually an indicator of the refrigerant line either being blocked or leaking. Acid can sometimes build up inside the lines, creating leaks that can spill the cooled liquid that is meant for the evaporator. 

An air conditioning service professional can bring what is often called a flush kit to wash the acid from the lines if possible. If the lines are completely bad, they can be replaced at a cost much lower than replacing the compressor and condenser.

Contact an air conditioning service professional like Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling to assess the situation.