How to Fix an AC Compressor

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Updated May 19, 2023

Many air conditioners last for a long time. However, if they aren’t given routine maintenance, even the best air conditioner can suffer damage well before its appropriate time. Therefore, keeping an eye out for air conditioning compressor issues is crucial for AC owners. Because the AC compressor is one of the major components of any outdoor unit, it’s best to let professionals handle replacing the entire part (unless you have professional HVAC experience). However, there are some easy ways to check your unit for any issues, like seeing if it is an electrical issue or if the condenser coils are in good shape. So below, we’ll go a little more in-depth on these possible issues with some troubleshooting tips on how to fix an air conditioner compressor.


  • An air conditioner compressor cools the air and pumps it back into the house.
  • Replacing a bad AC compressor is a complicated job that HVAC professionals should handle.
  • Owners should know how to search for and diagnose compressor issues and perform preventative maintenance, like coil cleanings and air filter replacements.

How to Fix an Air Conditioner Compressor

A common question for central AC owners is, “How long should my air conditioner compressor last?” The answer usually depends on the level of care the owner gives it. Typically, the compressor should last about 10-15 years. However, if a faulty compressor remains in an air conditioning unit, it can have a drastically shortened lifespan.

If continually ignored, life expectancy can be brought much lower. If you’re using different AC compressor oils than what’s needed for your unit, this can also cause it to break faster. These proper care measures are why owners need to know how to maintain their units, such as what to do when your AC makes a loud noise when starting or how to remove mold from air conditioner coils. And, if you are having compressor issues, we have a page you can check out on reasons your AC compressor is not turning on. Additionally, you may curious about what home AC refrigerant types are used.

And if you’ve already determined that your AC unit is beyond repair, you can check out our guide on how to scrap an AC unit. This will help you avoid the costly repairs and labor costs that come with a broken compressor. We also offer additional guides on air conditioner repair, like how to replace an air conditioner capacitor.

Insider Tip

It’s best to replace an active central AC unit’s air filter every 90 days.

Check for an Electrical Issue


Turn off your AC unit at the circuit breaker or electrical discharge line.


Remove the access panel and examine the wires that connect to the condenser.


The AC compressor is an essential part of the unit, so don’t perform any maintenance on it unless you are sure of what you are doing.


Look for any burn marks, corroded terminals, broken wire harnesses, or a blown fuse.


Call an HVAC technician to inspect and fix it if you find anything.

STAT: HVAC experts say that about 80-85% of the time, AC repairs are because of an electrical issue. (source)

Check Condenser Coils


The evaporator coil system will sometimes become dirty, or the refrigerant lines will crack and spring leaks. To check for this, remove the access panel and examine the coils.


If you find that your coils are dirty, you can clean the coils with a brush and coil cleaner or have a professional do this for you. If your coils are leaking, call an HVAC professional to fix this immediately.


How do I know if I have a severe issue with my compressor?

One of the best ways to tell this is if you hear strange noises coming from the unit or if it stops blowing cool air.

What causes the AC coils to freeze?

The most common reason for coil freezing is the lack of airflow brought about by a dirty air filter.

How long does the average AC compressor cost?

The average cost of compressor replacement is about $1,200.

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