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4 Signs Your Home's Central Air Conditioner's Compressor Is Malfunctioning

Until recently, your home's central air conditioner may have been doing its job at keeping your house comfortably cool. Lately, however, you may have noticed a significant change in the air temperature, leading you to suspect there could be a problem. If so, look for the following signs that the unit's compressor is malfunctioning and in need of repairs.

Compressor Hard Starts When It Turns On

Whenever your air conditioner's compressor kicks on, it normally makes a clicking noise when the refrigerant starts moving through the system. However, if the compressor is failing or leaking, you may hear a loud banging sound coming from the unit as soon as it turns on.

When your compressor starts hard starting, the loud noise occurs because the unit is having difficulty forcing the refrigerant through the lines. This difficulty could be caused by a low level due to a leak or a malfunctioning motor.

Air Conditioner's Casing Rattles While On

Another sign that the compressor is no longer working properly is a noticeable shaking and rattling the AC unit's outer casing while the compressor is running. Usually, you may notice only a slight vibration.

However, if the compressor is having to work harder to compensate for low refrigerant levels, a failing motor, or a cracked line, the increase in the workload can cause it to shake.

As the condition worsens, the rattling will become stronger and louder. Eventually, the compressor's brackets could break off from the vibrations, busting the part and spilling refrigerant every where.

Puddles of Fluid Are Present around the Unit

If your compressor is damaged to the point that it is leaking refrigerant inside the unit, eventually the fluid will make its way to the area surrounding your air conditioner. You will likely start seeing puddles of fluid on the ground, even when the weather has been dry for more than a few days.

However, if you see a puddle on the outside of your air conditioner, the liquid could simply be normal condensation coming from the unit. This moisture can happen on especially hot and humid days.

When you see a puddle, look on the outside of the unit for a drainage tube. If you see that the puddle is directly below the tube, the liquid is likely just condensation running out of the unit.

However, if you do not see a drainage tube, see multiple puddles, or have also noticed other unusual signs, the fluid may be refrigerant coming from a broken compressor. Loss of fluid from the compressor can make it break down faster, as well as pose a more serious threat to your household.

Household Members Exhibit Unexplained Physical Symptoms 

If you and other members of your family have been starting to feel sick around the same time you have noticed an issue with your air conditioner, the health problems could be caused by exposure to leaking refrigerant. As the fluid's condensates make their way through your vents, you and your household may be breathing them in.

After being exposed to the airborne fluid, you or other members of your family run the risk of refrigerant poisoning. This type of poisoning is serious and difficult to treat.

If you start having unexplained symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor for proper diagnosis. But, if you suspect your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant and is causing the illness, also contact a repair service to inspect your unit.

If you notice any of the above signs, your air conditioner's compressor should be looked at by a professional as soon as possible. Contact an HVAC service to have them come out to inspect your central AC unit so they can diagnose and fix the problem.