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Does a Fried Compressor Mean the AC Must Be Replaced?

compressor-in-ac-unitNow here’s an unpleasant problem you may run into during the last days of summer: an air conditioning system that doesn’t work because the compressor has died. The compressor is the literal heart of a cooling system, since it’s the component that causes refrigerant to circulate through the system, turning a cool low-pressure liquid into a hot high-pressure gas. When a compressor is fried because of a burnt-out motor, an air conditioner turns into nothing more than a large fan.

You may have heard that a dead compressor means the end of the line for the air conditioning systems It’s so expensive to replace the compressor that the more cost-effective choice is to have a brand-new cooling system put in. But is this true? If air conditioning repair in Burlington, VT won’t save the compressor, is the next step working with us to get a new system?

Is the compressor under warranty?

This is the first thing to check when you have a fried compressor in an AC. The manufacturer’s warranty for the air conditioner usually covers the compressor, and the standard warranty is good for 10 years (provided the system receives annual maintenance). If the warranty still covers the compressor, then have only the compressor replaced.

The other situations

The compressor isn’t under warranty because the system is older. You now have three different options:

  • Replace the outdoor condenser unit. This is the entire cabinet and the components in it, which includes the compressor and the condenser coil.
  • Replace the outdoor condensing unit and the indoor evaporator coil. This leaves the air handler and the heating system indoors in place—essentially, this is replacing the AC.
  • Replace both the cooling and heating system, including the air handler.

Obviously, these are listed in order of expense, and you don’t want to end up splurging for one that’s more costly than necessary.

In most situations, the middle option is the best. Although you can choose to leave the indoor evaporator coil in place to save money, you risk having a mismatched system that won’t work as efficiently. Making the full AC replacement provides you with benefits you don’t get if you only replace the outdoor condenser. You’ll receive a whole new warranty, a full replacement of the refrigerant (important if your old system used R-22, which will phaseout completely next year), and only have to pay once for an installation rather than twice when you have to make a coil replacement in a few years.

Replacing the whole ball of wax—the AC, the heater, the air handler—is something to consider only if the heating system is old and due to be replaced as well. It’s less expensive to take care of replacing the cooling and heating system at once than to do them separately. This is also an opportunity to have a heat pump installed, which does the job of both cooling and heating a home.

We recommend you consult with our experts before making a firm decision. We can use our knowledge to guide you toward the ideal options for your cooling system’s future.

Schedule service to find out what to do with your air conditioning system. Red Rock Mechanical, LLC serves Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York.

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