Air Conditioner Compressor Failure Causes

With summer upon us in Manitoba, there will be times you will probably just want to relax in your home and not have to worry about the Winnipeg summer heat outside. Unfortunately, there are quite a few different things that can impact your air conditioner and cause it to stop working, forcing you to put those plans on hold. Fortunately, not all the problems are expensive and, in some cases, can be resolved quickly. Issues of this nature could be as simple as a loose wire for example. The compressor is another matter though. If your compressor fails, it is a significant issue and will require the services of a qualified air conditioning repair technician.

What is a Compressor

The compressor is a critical component of your air conditioning unit. Its primary function is to compress the refrigerant gas and then pump it throughout the system. This serves to remove the heat and humidity in your home. Without your compressor, the system cannot function. For the most part it is reliable, but when it fails, it can be expensive to repair – in fact in some cases repair is not possible and replacement is required.

Reasons for Compressor Failure

Understanding what a compressor is and how it works is essential, but what are the primary reasons for compressor failure? This list will provide you with information on four of the most common issues and their causes.

Neglected Maintenance

There are many various reasons for compressor failure, but the primary culprit in a lot of cases, is neglecting regular maintenance. When condenser coils get clogged with dirt, leaves and other debris, it restricts air flow and causes the temperature to rise in the compressor. This increased temperature, due to the extra work the compressor needs to perform, can cause the system to break down. It is important to regularly check to see if there is debris surrounding your air conditioner unit to help prevent debris from getting in.

Oil Loss

Aside from neglect and maintenance, another standard issue is oil loss. Air conditioning units, like cars, need oil for proper lubrication. If oil leaks from the unit, your air conditioning unit will not have enough available and this could cause your compressor to seize or lock up. Remember that the compressor in your air conditioner is a mechanical device. When it locks up, it causes the whole unit to fail.

Suction Lines

A third issue that is often the cause of compressor failure has to do with the suction lines. If these lines become blocked, you will find that the unit is not cooling as effectively which can lead to the compressor having to work harder. Again, this extra effort causes increased temperatures leading to failure. If you do experience this and choose to replace the lines, use the services of a qualified technician to ensure that the lines are properly installed. Lines that are not installed correctly, or are too small or large, can cause similar issues.


The refrigerant is the fourth problem that could cause compressor issues. If the refrigerant line has issues and the coolant leaks out of the line, then the compressor needs to work harder to provide the same level of cooling. This can cause the compressor to overheat and break down.


As you can see, there are several different things that can impact your air conditioner compressor. Ensure that you have scheduled a qualified technician from Weather Tech Heating and Cooling to regularly inspect your whole unit to ensure that it provides you with years of trouble-free service.

Steve De Vries is a “Red Seal” refrigeration technician with over 20 years of experience in the HVAC industry. He has been a certified Lennox Premier technician since 2006. Steve is also a Master gas-fitter licensed by the province of Manitoba. Along with his Red Seal Provincial accreditation he also holds an electrical license. Born and raised in Winnipeg Manitoba, Steve has a very good understanding of a diverse climate and the affects it has on our construction. Well versed in duct design, fabrication, ventilation, and air quality, Steve understands all the variables to take into consideration for our region as well as the science to achieve desired comfort, which is so much more than just temperature.