Refrigerant Leak Or Bad Compressor?


When it comes to any air conditioner system, the compressor is usually the costliest and most challenging part to replace. Your car's air conditioning system uses similar components to a home AC, including a compressor unit that pressurizes the refrigerant before it enters the evaporator coils. A failed compressor will stop your air conditioner dead in its tracks.

However, other problems with your air conditioning system can present similar symptoms to a compressor that's on its way out. In many cases, a refrigerant leak may seem like a problem with your car's compressor. Knowing what's troubling your air conditioner system can mean the difference between an eye-watering repair bill and a relatively easy fix.

How Do Refrigerant Leaks Impact Your AC System?

You might think that low refrigerant will mean warm AC, but the relationship between refrigerant pressure and temperature is more complex than that. Your air conditioner's cooling effect relies on the refrigerant changing phases from a vapor to a liquid. This phase change occurs when the refrigerant reaches its saturation temperature, which can vary depending on system pressure.

As your AC loses refrigerant, the system pressure decreases, and the saturation temperature at your evaporator coils falls. Counterintuitively, a loss of refrigerant often means colder AC temperatures. Unfortunately, you won't get to enjoy this cool air for long. The reduced temperature typically causes ice to form on your evaporator, freezing the coils and causing plenty of havoc with your system.

Ice on the evaporator coils acts as an insulator, preventing the refrigerant from absorbing more heat. You'll notice the air from your vents getting warmer and possibly more humid. A frozen evaporator also affects the refrigerant phase change cycle, preventing the liquid from transitioning into a gas. As a result, the compressor becomes overstressed and may short cycle or stop working altogether.

How Can You Know the Difference?

Since your compressor may shut down, short cycle, or behave oddly with low refrigerant pressures, it can be challenging to determine the underlying cause of the problem. Additionally, the stress placed on the compressor by low refrigerant levels can cause wear and eventually lead to failure. Low system pressure can also stop oil from circulating in the compressor, ruining it even more quickly.

Taking your car to a trained technician is usually the best approach when your vehicle exhibits unusual air conditioning behavior. An experienced AC repair shop can evaluate the condition of your compressor and check for leaks. By fixing these problems as soon as you notice them, you'll be able to avoid further damage to your compressor and potentially dodge the cost of replacing it.

If you notice any of these signs, contact a local auto AC repair service.


27 July 2021

Investing In Proper Auto Service

After trying in vain to fix my car for a few months, I realized that I needed to hire a professional. I was tired of dealing with repairs that I was unfamiliar with, and I knew that I needed to get some help. I started looking around for a great auto mechanic, and even though one business was more expensive than others, I decided to work with them. They worked hard to fix my car, and I was really pleased with how great of a job they did. This blog is all about investing in proper auto service so that you don't have to deal with problems in the future.