How to Extend the Life of Your HVAC Unit

compressor heart health in HVAC unit

What is the most important component in an air conditioning unit? Air conditioners consist of four basic mechanical parts: a compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. All of the parts are crucial to the system functioning properly so that it delivers optimal performance and security for your mission critical environment.

Why is an HVAC Compressor Important?

We all know that maintaining a healthy heart is a key component in living a long and healthy life. Well, if any part of an air conditioner can be considered the “heart” of the system, it’s the compressor. An air conditioner works by transforming a refrigerant compound from a gas to a liquid and back again in a continuous cycle. It is the compressor that is responsible for circulating the refrigerant in the system under pressure.

As you need to get regular checkups and perform routine maintenance to keep your heart and body healthy, so would you need to as well for your compressor. Here are some recommended guidelines to keep in mind for taking care of your compressor.

    • Make sure that the piping is installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If the piping selection or design is incorrect, it can result in excessive noise, high vibration frequency or even multiple compressor failures due to the lack of oil return.
    • Do not install the condenser more than 10 feet below the evaporator since excessive liquid line pressure drop can cause poor evaporator performance. When the condenser is installed more than 10 feet below the compressor, you might see a quicker wear and tear on the compressor.
    • In a gaseous state, the refrigerants are poor carriers of oil. For proper oil return and to prevent the oil from falling back down, install traps on the vertical rise of the suction line and discharge line (hot gas line) at every 15-20 feet in height.
    • Make sure there is sufficient airflow across the evaporator coil. If the airflow is very minimal, the liquid refrigerant traveling in the evaporator will not boil off. This liquid refrigerant then travels to the compressor crankcase washing out the oil, leaving the compressor bearings without lubrication and potentially causing the compressor to fail.
    • Charge the unit according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. If the unit is under charged or over charged, it can result in starving or flooding the evaporator. This can decrease the pressure and velocity and cause insufficient oil return to the compressor. Under these conditions it can cause the compressor to overheat and draw high current, resulting in overheating the oil which can damage the insulation and contaminate the system.

If you would like more comprehensive instructions on how to maintain your compressor, you can download our checklist of recommended guidelines for installation and start-up for keeping your compressor healthy:

Download the Healthy Compressor Checklist

Perform HVAC Maintenance Periodically

The compressor is the most important part of the air conditioning system since this vital part is also known as the heart of the system. Just as the human heart needs to be in good condition, so is the compressor. And the compressor needs looking after to keep good health. Failure to perform regular maintenance can result in short cycling the unit and compressor damage.

Healthy compressor means a healthy heart.

To find answers to other maintenance questions, visit our FAQ page.