How to Know if the Air Conditioning Compressor is Bad?

In this summer heat, having a functional air conditioner is a no-brainer. It is a compulsion, especially if you have infants or elders in your house.

After all, the purpose of purchasing an air conditioner is to safeguard you from extreme heat.

So it’s reasonable to be concerned if your air conditioner suddenly decides to give up on you.

Yet, it is very common for homeowners to be oblivious when their A/C unit begins to malfunction.

One of these issues is a faulty air conditioning compressor. The compressor is the component of the air conditioner unit that continually cycles on and off to cool the house.

Its function is to keep the refrigerant circulating and the system fully pressurized and is, therefore, the most fundamental player in the optimal operation of your air conditioner.

Compressors can fail for a variety of reasons, but the best time to detect an air conditioning compressor problem is when it first occurs.

Here’s how to know if the air conditioning compressor is bad so you can address the problem before it gets worse.

1. Cold Air is being Released Outdoors

To put it simply, an air conditioner keeps the inside of your home or office cool by extracting hot air from the inside environment of your house and releasing it outside.

One of the preliminary things you need to check if you suspect that the air compressor of your air conditioner is not working properly is by inspecting the amount of hot air being released outside.

You can ensure that your air conditioning unit is operating properly by going outside where the fan of the AC is present.

Use your hand and place it near the fan to check if the unit is compressing the gas adequately. If the air isn’t hot but rather lukewarm or chilly, it’s an indication that your compressor isn’t working as expected.

If you’ve observed your system decreasing cooling power over time, it might also be an indication of a refrigerant leak. This can occur when the compressor is put under strain. As a result, there has been a leak.

2. There is Unfamiliar or very Loud Noise Coming From the Air Conditioner

There is something wrong if you can hear a very loud noise coming from the unit.

In normal circumstances, when you stand nearby of the unit, and the air conditioner is switched on, one can expect a very effortless initiation of the machine kicking into action.

You can check if the air conditioning compressor is bad in the same manner.

If you hear the compressor and the compressor’s fan functioning correctly, then the chances are that there is nothing wrong with the compressor; however, if the device begins to vibrate or emits rumbling, popping, banging, clicking, growling, clattering, or screaming noises, it may be tripped.

If the machine vibrates as it begins, it might be because the compressor is “hard starting” or having trouble beginning – a warning indication that the compressor is going to fail.

There may be several reasons behind this, including electrical issues. It can also be an indication that the compressor or a fan is loose and thrashing around within the housing.

Therefore if you find yourself in any of these situations, you should immediately contact a professional after turning it off.

3. There is a Delay in Start-Up

Check your condensing unit outside your home if your air conditioner is not cooling your residence to the setting you’ve selected and the fan within your home is operating properly.

There is a problem if you hear the fan working but not the compressor. If this is the case, you may have to choose between replacing and repairing.

If your system is old and has been in service for 10 or 15 years, it may be more cost-effective to replace it rather than perform an expensive repair.

But keep in mind that compressors that fail might be costly to replace.

However, before you assume that it is an issue with the air compressor, it is always better to check the breakers to make sure they haven’t tripped.

You can do that by finding the electrical service panel (which is generally in the kitchen, hallway, garage, or closet) and opening it.

You will find that each switch has a label indicating which appliances/areas of the house it controls. You can generally find the switch in one of three positions: on, off, or the middle.

If it’s in the middle, turn it off before turning it back on. Next, check the fuse box to make sure a blown a fuse isn’t the problem. This box is located on a wall outside your home, near the condenser unit.

If there’s a blown a fuse, you can easily replace it.

If none of the above-mentioned issues resolves your problem and all of the breakers and fuses are in good operating condition.

Then I am afraid that a malfunctioning compressor might be to blame for your lack of cold air.

4. The Air Conditioner Dispenses Warm Air or less Air

This is one of the first symptoms of a compressor problem: the air conditioner is still running, but less air is flowing out of the vents.

It isn’t all in your head. If you observe this, contact an HVAC specialist for a diagnosis.

Another sign is if you hear your air conditioner running but don’t feel any air flowing out when you put your hands on the vent.

Air conditioning compressors can fail in a variety of ways. Some methods enable them to continue operating and pumping air into your house.

This air, on the other hand, will not be cool.

If you’re only receiving warm air from your home’s vents, it’s an indication that your compressor is malfunctioning or that you’re running low on refrigerant.

5. Staggeringly High Electricity Bill

An air conditioning unit is one of the most expensive products in your home to run.

If you’re using your air conditioning system normally but notice that you’re paying extra for it, the problem might be the compressor.

If this component has to work harder to chill the air in your home, the air conditioning machine will run more frequently and consume more power, resulting in higher costs.

6. Leaks

You may have a refrigerant leak if you see leaks around any element of your air conditioning system. This is dangerous since it can lead to health problems like headaches, nausea, coughing, and eye discomfort.

A hissing sound indicates a leak if you listen to the AC compressor while it is running. Your air conditioning will cease working altogether because it lacks the chemicals required to produce cold air.

Because refrigerant is hazardous, do not handle it yourself, and it is recommended to consult a professional as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Figuring out if the air conditioner compressor is bad can be a tricky scenario; therefore, it is understandable if you still have some questions or doubts on your mind.

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by people regarding this topic so that you can clarify any leftover confusion.

  • How can I tell if my AC Compressor is Bad?

The telltale signs of an AC compressor not working properly include noise, high electricity bill, leakage, disruption in airflow, and warm air being dispensed.

You can refer to the article for more details.

  • Can AC Compressor be Repaired?

This entirely depends on the condition as well as the issue that the compressor of your air conditioner is facing.

You should refer to a professional and seek advice on whether repairing or replacing the compressor is better for your specific case.

Problems like a blown a fuse, leakage, etc., can be repaired, but the compressor will likely break down more frequently after the repairs have been made.

  • How much does it Cost to Replace an Air Conditioner Compressor?

Depending on the condition as well as a warranty of your air conditioner compressor, replacing it may cost between the range of $600-2500.

  • How do I know if my AC Compressor is Bad?

You can check if your compressor is bad by checking if it is making loud noises, leakage, dispensing warm air, the fan isn’t starting, etc.

Refer to the article for a more in-depth explanation.

  • Why is my AC running but not cooling?

If your air conditioner is operating but not decreasing inside temperatures, the possible cause may be an obstructed condenser coil.


I hope you find these indicators helpful in figuring out whether your air conditioner’s compressor is working properly or has gone bad.

If you are encountering any of the concerns listed above, you should seek repair service as early as possible from a skilled and dependable expert. The longer you wait for expert help, the worse your compressor problems may get.

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