Where Is AC Compressor Located In House? [Detailed Guide]

You may not know it, but the compressor is the heart and soul of every air conditioning system and one of the most crucial parts. If you are someone that is not familiar with the air conditioner components, you might be curious where the compressor is located. After thorough research, we can give you the answer. 

You can find the compressor from both central and split systems in the outside air conditioning unit, usually located at the side or rear of your home. The outdoor unit or outdoor condensing unit houses the compressor, together with the condenser, condenser coil, and fan.

When using an air conditioner, it is just right to get familiar with its components to know how to properly take care of them and prevent them from obtaining damage. And since our topic is about the compressor, besides knowing its location, it would be best to know everything about it, such as its function, types, and more. Let's delve into the details!

Here's What You Need To Know About An Air Conditioner Compressor

Heating and air conditioning inverter on the side of a house

Like the instruments in an orchestra, the many air conditioning unit components play off one another to produce the desired effect for cooling or heating the space. Below is a detailed guide about the compressor of an air conditioner.

Where Is The Air Conditioner's Compressor Located

The outdoor or condensing unit, which you can install in the backyard or along a wall, houses the compressor. Also, the compressor is physically situated near the condenser, condenser coil, and fan inside the outdoor unit.

The one that connects the indoor and outdoor air conditioner units is a copper refrigerant tube. And if these units join together, they will work to change the warm air indoors into refreshingly cool air. 

What Is The Role Of A Compressor

It would be best to learn how the air conditioning process works to understand the function of a compressor.

The evaporator coil of your air conditioner removes heat from the indoor air by passing the air through a series of cold pipes. A liquid refrigerant keeps the evaporator coil cool by transforming the hot air passing through it into a gas. After that, the gas will go to the outdoor condenser coil and return to a liquid state. And from that, the cooling cycle resumes. 

So, the question here is, what role does the compressor play?

The compressor is in charge of transferring the refrigerant from the evaporator coils to the condenser coils and back again. The compressor allows the refrigerant to change phase as required.

Compressors are responsible for circulating the refrigerant throughout the system, ensuring its continued viability and optimal performance.

What Are The Common Issues Of A Compressor

Expect the compressor to frequently experience malfunction since it contains many moving components. Below are all possible outcomes of a faulty compressor.

Produces Noise

The most common noises compressor produce are clanking and banging. The reason behind these sounds is loose components. In addition, you'll know that there is a refrigerant leak issue if the compressor makes a hissing or bubbling noise. However, if you have heard one of these noises for a short period, note that it is normal. 

Inadequate Cooling

Know that the primary cause of an air conditioner that provides inadequate cooling is when the compressor is worn out or unconsolidated. 

Experiences Hard Starting

An electrical issue is likely to blame when the air conditioner's compressor has trouble starting or stopping.

Other Issues

Aside from those mentioned above, there are still additional issues that a faulty air conditioner compressor might produce, such as:

  • the outdoor condensing unit operates hot
  • the compressor burning out as it operates
  • your air conditioner might not work at all

Repair Or Replacement Of Air Conditioner Compressors

When it comes to the repair of a faulty compressor, know that it has limitations. And it would be best to ask for the help of a professional.

There's a possibility that a malfunctioning compressor is not because of the compressor itself but of the air conditioner. However, if the issue is indeed the compressor, you may have no choice except to get a new one. Additionally, a complete HVAC system replacement may be necessary, depending on the problem's nature and the system's age.

The air conditioner's compressor is essential to the system's health and must operate at peak efficiency for the system to be effective. And please remember that the compressor is the most expensive air conditioner component. So, as much as possible, take care of it thoroughly. 

What Are The Types Of Air Conditioner Compressors

AC unit connected to the resid, ential house, Where Is AC Compressor Located In House? [Detailed Guide]

Below are the most popular kinds of air conditioning compressors:

Reciprocating Compressor


This type of compressor has been around the longest and is the most functionally equivalent to other compressor types used in refrigeration.

It does its job with the help of a piston that squeezes the air and creates an upward and downward motion inside a cylinder to achieve the desired effect. This action draws in the refrigerant gas by creating a vacuum. Even though a reciprocating air conditioner can experience difficulties due to piston wear, its excellent efficiency comes from its ability to use up to eight cylinders.

Screw Compressor

screw compressor that has been in operation for a very long time

Large business spaces with high ventilation and cooling demands usually use screw compressors. A screw compressor contains a set of matched helical motors that directs the airflow from one side to the other. 

While screw compressors are some of the most dependable and efficient machines available, their high price tag makes them impractical for use in smaller systems.

Scroll Compressor

Scroll compressor with a drive device for compression of gas

The core of the scroll compressor is a stationary coil known as the "scroll," a relatively recent technological advancement. A second coil spins around the primary scroll to force the refrigerant closer to the core. The scroll compressor is more dependable since it has fewer moving components.

Rotary Compressor

Cross section of the rotary compressor

If you want your air conditioner to work quietly, choose one that uses a rotary compressor. It is silent, takes up less space, and produces less vibration than competing types. Know that the rotary compressor functions by simultaneously pushing and compressing refrigerant with the help of a bladed shaft rotating inside a graded cylinder.

Centrifugal Compressor

Centrifugal Compressor

Only the largest air conditioning and ventilation systems should use centrifugal compressors. It uses centrifugal force to draw in the refrigerant. It will then utilize an impeller to compress the gas further. Know that because of the centrifugal compressor's specific function, it is among the most extensive and most costly compressors available. 

How To Maintain Your Air Conditioning Compressor

HVAC Air conditioning unit being charged with R410a refrigerant

Various compressors require regular servicing to ensure optimal performance and avoid costly breakdowns. Check the fundamentals of compressor upkeep below:

Don't Expose The Outdoor Unit To Direct Sunlight

If you don't want your compressor and other outdoor unit components to burn out while working, it would be best to cover and shield them from direct sunlight exposure. Homeowners commonly use plywood with a sheet size of 4x8. However, when placing the cover, you must ensure that it won't hinder the airflow of the outdoor condensing unit.

Inspect For Leaks

Inspect the vacuum and vent lines for leaks. It would be best to change the seals to a new ones if there are any leaks. In addition, you must remember that replacing the seals is a must during yearly maintenance to ensure a leak-free year.

Clean The Coils

Cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils is a must if you wish to prevent your compressor from operating harder than usual. Dirty coils may result in diminished productivity and the risk of mechanical breakdown. There are two phases of this step, and these are:

  1. Before doing anything else, you must remove the dirt and debris in the coil fins. And with this step, you need to use a vacuum cleaner. 
  2. Get a coil cleaner and use it to clean the fins. Spray an adequate amount, leave it as required, then rinse off with ample water. 

Check out this coil cleaner on Amazon.

Change Filters

In an air conditioner, replacing the filter is a must. Know that if your air conditioner has a clogged filter, it will make the compressor and other components work harder. And such a situation means your air conditioning unit works with reduced effectiveness and efficiency. 

Clear The Surroundings From Leaves

It is necessary always to check your outdoor unit for hindrances. Since the compressor locates in the outdoor condensing unit, it would be best to check it regularly for leaves, plants, or any blockages. Regular trimming of plants or bushes is essential. 

Note that blockages near the outdoor unit will hinder the air from flowing properly, which is another reason why an air conditioner works harder than usual. 

Annual Refrigerant Checkup

It is highly advisable to check for refrigerant every year. If the refrigerant is low, expect that it will reduce the cooling capacity of your air conditioner. Also, this task requires the help of an HVAC professional. 

Use Insulated Blanket

It would be best to wrap the outdoor condensing unit with an insulated blanket during the winter. It will significantly keep your air conditioning unit safe and secure even during the coldest temperature. 

Wrapping It All Up

AC unit connected to the residential house

A compressor is the most crucial part of an air conditioner, so it is just right to be familiar with it. And since you already know its location in the unit, it would be best to follow all the maintenance guidelines we have provided you in this post. Doing such will also prevent your air conditioner compressor from malfunctioning, especially since it is the most expensive part.

Were you able to read this entire article? We hope this post answers all your concerns about compressors. If you wish to read further, you can check these posts out!

Will Low Freon Damage A Compressor?

Scroll Vs. Reciprocating: What Compressor Is Best For Your Needs?

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