Reasons Why Your AC Compressor Is Working But Not Cooling

Extreme heat can significantly affect our energy levels, complicating everyday tasks and disrupting sleep. Air conditioning systems help relieve such warmth, but there are occasions when they operate without effectively reducing the temperature, resulting in both annoyance and unnecessary energy consumption. 

If you’re wondering, “Why is my AC compressor working but not cooling?” The problem may lie in several potential factors, including refrigerant issues, compressor malfunctions, or airflow blockages.

In this article by Lake Region Energy, we examine a common issue encountered by many: an AC compressor working but not cooling the area effectively. If you encounter this issue, you need prompt, professional attention to address these problems.

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The Crucial Function of the Air Conditioner Compressor

woman feeling warm looking at AC unit depicting importance of AC compressor

Regarded as the central component of an air conditioning system, the AC compressor plays a pivotal role by circulating the refrigerant essential for the heat exchange process. This crucial piece of equipment compresses the refrigerant gas, ensuring its movement throughout the system, which is vital for absorbing heat from indoors and releasing it outside. 

When the compressor fails, it jeopardizes the entire cooling cycle, resulting in poor temperature regulation. The compressor’s effectiveness directly influences the air conditioner’s capacity to maintain a steady and comfortable environment, underscoring its significance in the system’s overall efficacy.

Ensure your home stays comfortably cool by scheduling an annual air conditioner tune-up with Lake Region Energy’s expert technicians. Call us today!

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Why Is My AC Compressor Working But Not Cooling?

All its components must work harmoniously for an air conditioner to cool efficiently. Any malfunction within this synchronized system can lead to a breakdown in cooling efficiency. Quick identification and resolution of the problem are crucial for restoring optimal function. 

Monitoring the system for irregularities can clue you into existing problems, but the expertise of professional HVAC technicians is invaluable for a rapid and effective fix. We delve into common causes that may lead an AC compressor to run without effectively lowering temperatures.

1. Incorrect Thermostat Setup

AC thermostat inspection to know if compressor is working properly

Before assuming a system failure, check if the problem is the wrong thermostat settings stopping effective cooling. Review and adjust the thermostat settings, and then wait for improvements. Settings might have been changed without you knowing. If the area cools down after your adjustments, you’ve identified and solved the issue, ensuring a return to a comfortably relaxed environment.

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2. Dirty Air Conditioner Filter

The air filter in your air conditioner preserves indoor air quality by trapping dirt, pollutants, and allergens, ensuring that only clean air circulates through the system. This process helps the system operate smoothly and contributes to the longevity of its components. When the filter becomes clogged with debris over time, it can limit airflow and reduce the system’s cooling efficiency. A simple and affordable fix for homeowners facing cooling challenges might be to replace the HVAC filter, potentially restoring optimal cooling performance.

3. Blocked Air Conditioner Condenser Unit

outdoor air conditioner condenser unit

The outdoor condenser unit is pivotal for ejecting heat from your home. It utilizes a finned coil for this purpose. However, accumulation of debris like grass, dirt, and leaves can block these fins, impeding airflow and heat dissipation, leading to lower energy efficiency and reduced cooling effectiveness. A clean-up using a vacuum and soft brush can often rectify this, yet ongoing problems may require expert intervention. Annual maintenance, focusing on thorough cleaning, is vital for maintaining system efficiency and prolonging lifespan.

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4. Frozen Air Conditioning Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil is crucial in heat transfer, taking heat from indoor air to cool it and reduce humidity. However, should this coil freeze, it hampers the cooling process, resulting in the air conditioner failing to produce cold air. Indications of a frozen coil include visible frost on the refrigerant lines, higher energy bills, frost on the outdoor unit, excessive drainage from condensate lines, and inadequate cooling. 

Because the evaporator coil is not easily accessible, homeowners are advised against trying to fix this issue themselves. Instead, they should seek the expertise of an HVAC professional to find a correct and safe solution.

5. Cooling System Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant is critical to the cooling process of an air conditioner as it moves through the system, changes from liquid to gas, and adjusts temperature to absorb heat indoors and expel it outside. The correct amount of refrigerant is critical for the system to function efficiently. However, leaks can cause a drop in refrigerant levels, weakening the air conditioner’s ability to cool and possibly leading to AC compressor working but not cooling due to overwork. To sidestep these issues, ensure your HVAC contractor checks and refills the refrigerant levels during regular maintenance or if you suspect a leak.

Stay ahead of potential cooling problems by contacting Lake Region Energy for proactive HVAC maintenance services tailored to your needs. Book your service appointment today!

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6. Undersized Air Conditioning System

HVAC expert gauging AC size if it matches room size

The efficiency of an air conditioning system heavily depends on its size, which matches the cooling demands of your home. An undersized unit will underperform, particularly during the height of summer, as it cannot provide adequate cooling within its capacity. To determine if your air conditioning unit is the right size, check its rating and compare it against industry standards for the size of your space. 

Nonetheless, for a precise determination, it’s best to seek a scientific load calculation from an HVAC professional. This evaluation should ideally be part of your installer’s initial installation process.

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7. Leaky HVAC Ducts

HVAC ducts are crucial for moving conditioned air throughout your home, yet duct leaks can cause inconsistent cooling, leaving some areas warm while others cool correctly. The issue worsens when ducts are located in hot spaces, such as attics, where they lose cold air and draw in warm air, sometimes resulting in vents emitting warm air. Spotting and repairing leaks is complex due to the invisible nature of air, requiring expert knowledge. A qualified HVAC technician can adeptly locate and rectify these leaks, restoring uniform cooling.

8. Dirty or Blocked Air Conditioner Registers

man checking wall air vent due to AC compressor not working

Dust and debris accumulate on HVAC registers over time, blocking airflow. To keep air moving smoothly and avoid any drop in performance, it’s crucial to clean these registers regularly. Furniture placed too close to registers can also hinder air circulation. Adjusting the layout of your furniture can significantly enhance airflow. 

Use a vacuum to clear away dust and then wipe down the surfaces for a more thorough cleaning. If possible, take the registers off and clean them in the dishwasher for an even deeper clean.

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9. Excessive Heat From The Sun

The sun’s intense rays in summer can challenge underpowered air conditioning systems, leading to subpar cooling. Direct sunlight hitting the thermostat can cause it to read temperatures inaccurately, making the system overwork and strain. To mitigate this, keep window shades drawn during the day to block sunlight and minimize indoor heat.

10. Neglected Proper Air Conditioner Maintenance

Lake Region Energy service van for AC compressor repair

Regular AC cleaning and maintenance are essential for keeping your cooling system running efficiently. Homeowners can handle basic tasks like cleaning the unit’s exterior and changing filters. However, more intricate maintenance requires the expertise of a professional HVAC technician. Booking an annual or semi-annual system tune-up with these professionals helps catch and fix potential issues early, avoiding bigger problems. Ensuring your air conditioner receives consistent professional care can prevent expensive repairs in the future.

For top-tier cooling services and maintenance that prioritize your comfort and satisfaction, choose Lake Region Energy as your trusted HVAC partner. Book your appointment today!

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11. Problems with the Exterior AC Unit Fan Motor

The exterior fan motor in the outdoor unit plays an essential role in releasing heat from your home. If this fan malfunctions, it can cause the compressor to overheat, possibly triggering an automatic shutdown to prevent damage. Solving this issue requires the expertise of a professional. Quick response is crucial to avoid additional problems.


A cool home is universally desired for its impact on comfort and productivity, making air conditioners indispensable. Though challenges such as inadequate cooling may arise, this guidance is meant to aid your preliminary checks. An annual air conditioner tune-up can help stave off frequent issues. Enlisting HVAC professionals offers a swift and competent solution for more complex troubles. They bring expert diagnosis, lasting fixes, and valuable maintenance advice at reasonable costs.

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Call Lake Region Energy for All Your HVAC Requirements

Lake Region Energy delivers top-tier heating and cooling services in Maine and New Hampshire. Our professionally certified technicians are skilled in HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Our experts, with their extensive knowledge and experience, ensure your system’s peak performance.

Offering the best value for heating and cooling services in the area, our maintenance solutions enhance comfort, increase energy efficiency, and reduce costs. For those needing HVAC repairs or a new system, we provide tailored recommendations within your budget, backed by a satisfaction guarantee. To experience our exceptional service, contact Lake Region Energy for a free in-home estimate and to book your service appointment.

For more information about our fuel deliveries and HVAC services, reach out to Lake Region Energy. You can click here to contact us, or you can call us at (207) 839-5500. We offer a full line of heating and cooling repairs, maintenance services, and installations. Click the link to view our service area.

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