Did you know that your air conditioner’s compressor is considered the “heart” of your air conditioning system? It is the component that causes the refrigerant to move through the rest of the system and transfer heat from inside your home and expel it outside. When the compressor fails, the air conditioner essentially fails. The fans might still operate, but you’ll notice that no cooled air will come through the vents.
Since the compressor is so essential, and an expensive component to replace, homeowners have a big decision to face when theirs fails.
So let’s say this is you–your compressor has failed and there’s no bringing it back to life. You had an HVAC technician out to take a look and it’s fried. You have a few options at this point:
- Replace just the compressor.
- Replace the entire outdoor unit.
- Replace the entire air conditioner.
Read on to learn what the best option might be for your home!
A Case for Replacing the Compressor
On the surface, this probably seems like the best option for you: it’s less expensive than the other options and it’s probably a quick solution, right? In some cases, yes, it can be the best option.
For instance, is your air conditioner still under warranty? Typically this means that it is under 10-years old. If so, then you may very well want to just replace the compressor. This is a pretty easy call and your technician will likely agree.
But, in most situations where a compressor fails, it’s because the cooling system is old, and consequently probably past its warranty coverage too. Busted compressors most often happen in a unit that’s 15 years old or more. So this is where you have to weigh your options–do you replace the entire outdoor unit, or is it more beneficial to replace the entire system?
A Case for Replacing Just the Outside Unit
This is typically the recommended step if the rest of your air conditioner’s components haven’t suffered from failures recently, or at all. If your air conditioner is still in pretty good shape overall, this can be a good option.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is many older systems utilize an older type of refrigerant that is no longer offered on the market. If you try to match a new outdoor unit with an indoor unit that still uses this refrigerant, it will be ineffective and inefficient.
A Case for Replacing the Entire Air Conditioner
As we alluded to above, once an air conditioner reaches about 10-15 years old, it’s nearing the end of its lifespan anyway. Parts start wearing down, the system works more inefficiently, and it costs more to run. If your compressor, the heart of your air conditioner, fails… then it may be the most economically beneficial for you to replace the entire system. We say this because doing so will leave you with a much more efficient system–it will keep your monthly bills low and as long as you keep it well maintained, you won’t have to worry about something like a failed compressor for a long time!