Customers seem to dread hearing three specific words from an HVAC professional: “It’s The Compressor.” These words strike fear in the heart of even the coolest of dudes. “It’s The Compressor” is the same as saying, “Hand over $1,000.” What do you do when you hear these words? Well, typically, after the panic subsides, you authorize the repairman to order a new air conditioning compressor and install it to repair the air conditioner. But wait…shouldn’t you know a little about the mysterious compressor?
There are three kinds of compressors used in air conditioning units: scroll, piston or reciprocating and screw. Scroll is the most common, efficient and quiet compressor. It’s designed to move the refrigerant using air that is compressed between two cogs that form curved gas pockets. Piston or reciprocating compressors are used mostly in commercial units. Because they use actual pistons to compress the gas in a chamber, they are noisy and less efficient than other compressors. The screw compressor uses two spindles that rotate in opposite directions to compress the refrigerant in the chamber.
If you hear the three dreaded words, ask questions. Ask what type of compressor it is that needs replaced. Then ask about the recommended replacement unit. Be comfortable with what is being used and how it’s being installed. Understand how the compressor works to keep your air conditioning working. Most of all, know what to do when you hear those three little words.