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The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. Blog

If My AC’s Compressor Breaks, Do I Need a New System?

compressor-in-ac-unitThe compressor is the literal heart of a central air conditioning system: it’s what causes refrigerant to move through the rest of the system and transfer heat from the inside to the outside. When a compressor fails, the AC fails. The fans may still run, but no cool air will come from the vents.

Because the compressor is such a vital component, and an expensive one to replace, a homeowner must face a big choice about what to do next.

We’ll put you in this situation—in fact, you may already be in the situation and are hunting for answers. Your compressor is fried. You called for air conditioning service in Tampa, FL, and your technician has determined that there’s no way to fix the compressor. It’s done. You now have three options:

  • Have a new compressor put in
  • Replace the entire condenser (the outdoor unit)
  • Replace the condenser and the indoor evaporator coil
  • Replace the entire AC and heating system

The Case for Replacing the Compressor

On the surface, it looks like this is the best option: less expensive, a faster solution. And in some situations, it is the best option.

If the air conditioning system is still under warranty (usually this means it’s less than 10 years old), then replace the compressor. This is an easy call, and your technician will certainly recommend it.

But in most situations where a compressor fails, it’s because the air conditioner is old and far past its warranty coverage. Busted compressors most often occur when a unit is 15 years old or more. In this case, you have to weigh your options. At this point, purchasing a new compressor is too expensive and likely not worth it.

The Case for Replacing Just the Outdoor Condenser

This is the recommended step if the rest of the AC components haven’t suffered from failures recently, or at all. If you have recently made a replacement to the indoor unit, such as a new electric furnace, then going with changing the outdoor condenser is also a good idea.

Something to be cautious of is that a mismatched condenser and indoor unit may lead to drops in efficiency. Make sure you work with the best technicians for a good match.

The Case for Replacing the Outdoor Condenser and the Evaporator Coil

This is essentially getting a new AC and leaving the other indoor components of the HVAC system intact. Doing this will get you a new warranty—something you won’t get with just a condenser replacement. It also ensures better energy efficiency with no mismatch between systems. If you have an old R-22 unit that uses a refrigerant that’s about to be phased out, you’ll be able to start over with R-410A refrigerant.

The Case for Replacing the HVAC System

This means you’ll also replace the furnace and the fans and the rest of the air handler. It’s a big job, but if the entire system is more than 15 years old and you can afford it, this is the best choice. You’ll have an optimum new system with great energy efficiency and a perfectly matched system. You can have advanced climate controls added. And you’ll have new life for your heating system as well.

The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. proudly serves our Tampa Bay family with integrity and honor. Call us to help get your home cool again.

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