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How To Deal With Compressor Not Working But The Fan Is Running

Is Upgrading Your Central Heating System To Add Air Conditioning Practical?

Our AC compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system, and you’ll notice when it’s not performing properly. When the air conditioner compressor fails but the fan continues to function, homeowners face a typical problem.

There could be various reasons why your fan is functioning yet your AC compressor is not. This post will go over each of them and will assist you in determining whether you need to engage an HVAC specialist to help you address your problem.

Signs That Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Working

When your AC compressor fails, you may notice that the circuit breaker trips regularly or that the compressor entirely stops down.

The outdoor unit shaking and making noises is another common symptom. There’s also the case where the fan is running but the air conditioner compressor is not.

The compressor is required for your air conditioner to deliver cool air to the interior of your home. The AC compressor is the system’s heart and is a costly component to replace.

However, not all compressor problems necessitate replacement. Let’s look at the most common reasons why your air conditioner’s compressor isn’t operating but the fan is still going.

Signs That Your Air Conditioner Isn't Working

Why Is Your AC Compressor Not Working But Your Fan Is?

These are the most common causes of an AC compressor that isn’t working yet the fan is running. Some problems can be fixed by yourself, especially if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, while others require the services of an HVAC specialist.

Debris and Dirt

Debris and Dirt

Your air conditioner not only moves air from one location to another, but it also collects dust and debris in the process. The filter collects most of the debris, but if the filter isn’t replaced on a regular basis, debris will develop on the condensor coils.

It’s crucial to remember, though, that even regular filter replacement won’t completely protect your AC system. Dirt accumulation is inevitable, however keeping your filter clean will make a significant impact.

The airflow is greatly reduced when the air filter is unclean, and the evaporator coil can stop working if there isn’t enough airflow. If your filter(s), condensor coil, or evaporator are unclean, your complete AC system may shut down.

Even though your air conditioner is still on, if your air filter and condenser coil are unclean, your compressor will have to work harder and eventually overheat.

Cross your fingers that if your compressor overheats, it will shut down automatically before any damage is done. If it didn’t, your compressor will need to be replaced.

If this is the case, you should be able to repair it yourself unless the compressor has been damaged. Replace the air filter, clean the condenser coils, and inspect and eliminate any obstructions in the supply vents, as needed.


It’s possible that the issue isn’t with your compressor at all! It may even be as simple as adjusting the thermostat. You’re expecting your air conditioner to turn on because the thermostat has been adjusted.

Your thermostat, on the other hand, indicates that the room is already at the proper temperature. In that situation, neither the air conditioning system nor the compressor will operate.

If your AC compressor still won’t start after adjusting your thermostat, you may have a broken thermostat that has to be replaced by a specialist. While this isn’t the ideal solution, it’s a lot less expensive than replacing your compressor!

Electrical Problem

Electrical Problem

When the fan runs but the AC compressor doesn’t, it’s likely that electrical power isn’t reaching the outside unit, where the compressor is housed, and the fan is still going since the inside unit has electricity.

First, check to determine if the circuit breaker has tripped or if a fuse has blown. The wiring between the inner and exterior unit should then be examined.

It’s always advisable to seek a professional to assist you troubleshoot an electrical problem unless you’re familiar working with electricity.

Unbalanced Units

Indoor and outdoor units are used in split systems. These items are designed to function together and are matched. Sometimes, either to save money or because they don’t understand how the system works, homeowners try to replace just one of the units.

This might be a costly error. If your AC compressor won’t start after you replaced either your indoor or outdoor unit, there’s a significant probability the units aren’t correctly matched. We strongly advise contacting an HVAC professional to assist you in determining your next steps.

Starter Relay and AC Capacitor

The starting relay and AC capacitor are two common problems with AC compressors. These two parts are crucial in giving the compressor with the power it requires to run.

The compressor, outer fan, and blower motor are all powered by the AC capacitor. The capacitors supply electricity to the compressor via the starter relay.

If your AC compressor isn’t operating and you hear humming, it’s possible that the compressor is attempting to reach the capacitor, but the capacitor is faulty.

Contact an HVAC professional if this is the case. This is a simple fix that should be performed by a professional.

Compressor Is Dead

There are numerous reasons why your compressor fails. It could be a refrigerant problem, such as too much, too little, or clogged lines. It’s also possible that the compressor’s oil lubrication was insufficient. It could even be an electrical problem like the one described above.

Regardless, your compressor is dead and your air conditioner isn’t working, and your only option is to replace it. This is a costly job that should only be performed by an expert.

Service Life Exceeded

Even the greatest air conditioning systems have a limited lifespan. If your system is more than a decade old, it may have outlived its usefulness.

Internal components fall down and deteriorate over time due to ongoing wear and tear. Problems with the AC compressor are one of the signs of a worn air conditioning system. However, there may be other flaws that you will notice.

Replacing your complete system, as you can expect, is not cheap. It will, however, run significantly more efficiently, and you will save money on your utility bills every month.

An AC Compressor’s Function

An AC Compressor's Function

When it comes to getting cold air into your home, an AC compressor is crucial. A split system is used in the majority of basic central air conditioning setups. This occurs when some of the system’s components are inside the house and the rest are outside.

The compressor is located in the outdoor unit of a split air conditioning system. Its job is to transport the refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor units’ coils. Pressure variations in the refrigerant as it circulates through the system allow heat from within your home to be conveyed and released outside.

The gaseous refrigerant enters the AC compressor, where it is compressed to raise the temperature to the point where it becomes a high-pressure gas.

The refrigerant is moved to the outdoor unit under high pressure, where it enters the condenser and releases its heat. The refrigerant becomes a liquid during the procedure.

The liquid refrigerant makes its way to the indoor unit and into the evaporator, where it is converted back to a gas. It is now ready to absorb the heat from inside your home. The cycle then repeats itself at the AC compressor.

Your air conditioner cannot supply cool air without the compressor, which is the driving force in your cooling system. In other words, even if your air conditioner’s compressor isn’t operating, the fan may still be running.

How to Maintain Your AC Compressor

The average cost of replacing your home’s air conditioning compressor is $1,200, so doing routine maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long term. Here are three suggestions to keep your air conditioner compressor in good working order:

Cleaning the condenser coil is a simple chore that will help your AC compressor last longer. You should be able to accomplish it on your own as well.

The heat is extracted from the refrigerant at the condenser coil. If your condenser coil isn’t up to the task, the rest of your air conditioning system will have to work harder to keep your home cool. The condenser coil is a screen-like grill that loops around the outer unit’s walls.

Your condenser coil requires two types of maintenance. To begin with, the thin, delicate metal strips frequently bend and fail to conduct heat as well as they should. If they are bent, you can straighten them out with a fin straightening tool.

You can also clean them. You can clear the dirt and debris that’s obstructing them using your hose and a spray-on condenser cleaner.

What do you think?

Written by HVAC Contributor

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