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Is a Dead Compressor the End of an Air Conditioning System?

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All parts of a central air conditioner are important, but no component has a more critical job than the compressor. This is the part that allows the AC to change from a central fan into a cooling system able to move heat out of the house. The job of the compressor is similar to the heart in a body: it works as a pump that circulates vital fluid. In the case of a compressor, it puts the refrigerant under pressure so that it starts the heat exchanger cycle that causes the AC to cool the house. 

When a compressor burns out, it often means the air conditioning system has reached the end of its service life and it’s time for an AC system replacement in Indianapolis. Compressors are expensive to replace, which is why opting for a new AC is often the more cost-effective choice, especially if the system is more than 10 years old.

However, this isn’t always the case. If your AC’s compressor burns out, you have four different options for how to go forward with your home cooling.

Option 1: Replace the compressor

Yes, a compressor is an expensive item. But if the compressor is still under warranty (usually with an AC that’s less than 10 years old), you won’t have to pay for the part, only the labor to replace it. If this is the case, then we recommend a compressor replacement to get several more good years out of the air conditioner. 

Option 2: Replace the condenser

The condenser is the outdoor cabinet and all its components, which includes the compressor along with the evaporator coil and the exhaust fan. This is less expensive than replacing the air conditioner (you’re leaving the indoor components in place) but we recommend this option the least of the four. Replacing only the condenser does not come with a new warranty, and there’s a risk of a mismatch between the indoor and outdoor components that will lower performance and efficiency. 

Option 3: Replace the air conditioning system

To replace the full air conditioning system means putting in a completely new condenser and replacing the indoor evaporator coil, leaving the other parts of the HVAC system (such as the blower fan and furnace) unchanged. The advantage of doing this is that you’ll receive a new warranty on the system and don’t have to worry about component mismatches. We often recommend this option for air conditioning systems no longer under warranty. 

Option 4: Replace the HVAC system

Everything must go! This means all the replacements listed above as well as the blower and the furnace. A complete new comfort system. This is the most expensive choice, but you may find it worthwhile if you think your furnace is getting close to replacement age as well. It’s more cost-effective to have the heater and AC replaced at once than to do them separately years apart. 

If you aren’t sure about the right option for you, just ask us. We can help you consider the various factors and help you toward the best decision. We’ll take care of whatever replacement you need.

Rely on Vital Heating & Air Because “Your Comfort Is Vital!” Your Indianapolis licensed HVAC contractor.

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