Why Is My AC Compressor Running But Not Cooling?

Residential A/C units

The summer heat and humidity are exhausting for everyone, and the hot days make daily life difficult at home. Air conditioning systems are critical for keeping the home comfortable during the sizzling heat and help homeowners and their families avoid health risks related to the heat.

If the air conditioner consumes power without improving the room temperatures, this is a sign of an air conditioner problem. HVAC experts pinpoint the problem and restore cooling services throughout the home. For some air conditioner models, the underlying issue is the compressor, and HVAC professionals test the AC unit and determine why the compressor works, but it isn’t cooling the home. This article discusses a common problem that homeowners experience with their cooling system – AC compressor working but not cooling.

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The Full Impact of Failing AC Components

Air conditioners consist of many components, underlying parts, and gears. If one major component fails, all surrounding parts work overtime to compensate for the component loss. The effects of wear and tear on the cooling system are dramatic. If the owner doesn’t set up an air conditioner repair quickly, the entire HVAC system could become damaged and faulty.

The compressor is a major AC component. If it fails, the homeowner needs fast air conditioning repairs to correct the problem. Certified HVAC technicians possess knowledge and expertise in heating and cooling services and work quickly to restore air conditioning operation. They can review the most prevalent causes of compressor damage and issues.

Incorrect Thermostat Setup

image of a homeower adjusting thermostat for air conditioning

Heating and cooling technicians assess the condition of the air conditioning installation when searching for common issues. Inferior air conditioning installations cause avoidable problems for the air conditioner, and the system won’t perform as expected. The thermostat is a major component that amateur HVAC technicians get wrong. Amateurs don’t recommend the best thermostat for the air conditioner or suggest products that save the owner money.

Technicians inspect the thermostat for installation issues, such as proper placement. If the thermostat doesn’t gauge the room temperatures properly, the thermostat causes short cycling and higher energy costs. The compressor engages with the system to apply energy to the refrigerant and start heat exchange. Improper thermostat installations cause short cycling and damage the compressor due to frequent starts and stops.

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The Effects of Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight on the home and thermostat has lasting effects. Many homeowners plant tall trees around the property to offer adequate shade, block direct sunlight, and keep the home cooler. If the sun shines on the thermostat directly, the thermostat gets inaccurate temperature readings. HVAC professionals recommend installing blinds or hanging blackout curtains to stop direct sunlight on the thermostat, and short cycling won’t happen.

Dirty Air Filters

image of a dirty air conditioner filter

Dirty air filters cause poor indoor air quality and inadequate air circulation. Unhealthy particles circulate in the ductwork and out the registers. These particles include pathogens, allergens, and contaminants pulled into the air conditioner. HVAC professionals recommend changing the air filters at least once a month.

Dirty air filters allow harmful particles to escape the filter and flow into the cooling system. Debris accumulation in the air conditioner causes blockages and proper heat exchange stops. These blockages cause components to fail, and the compressor cannot help the system produce cool air.

Homeowners with pets might need to change air filters more frequently. HVAC experts recommend grooming their pets often to control dander and pet hair.

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Blocked Air Conditioner Condenser Unit

Condenser coils must remain debris-free to cool the home. Blockages stop proper operations and won’t allow air to pass through the system. Condenser coils in exterior units require seasonal cleaning to remove grass, pine straw, dirt, and other debris that accumulates between seasons. Seasonal cleaning is a part of air conditioner maintenance. Air conditioning experts recommend the services before the homeowner starts the AC for the first time of the season.

Technicians apply chemicals that eat through the debris without damaging the coils on the condenser unit. They inspect the condenser unit for signs of rust or corrosion. An air conditioner tune-up solves these problems and helps homeowners avoid costly repairs.

Frozen Air Conditioning Evaporator Coil

air conditioner condensing coils

The interior air conditioning unit has an evaporator coil to transfer heat to the refrigerant and manage cooling services in the home. Evaporator coils operating as expected won’t freeze or interrupt cool airflow through the ductwork and registers. However, if the evaporator coil freezes, it might mean one of several things.

First, the technician tests the refrigerant levels and tests for a leak. Next, they review the evaporator coil for rust and bent fins. Frozen evaporator coils stop the cooling system from producing cool air, and hot air circulates in the home. Higher energy costs and water puddling outside the air conditioner casing are indicators of frozen evaporator coils. An HVAC professional finds the problem and recommends repairs or replacement services for the evaporator coil.

Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks

refrigerant refill for an air conditioner

Refrigerants flow through major components and produce cool air. The liquid converts to a gas, and the air conditioner components release gas into the system. The air conditioner pulls hot air from inside the home and forces it outside, and the refrigerant levels increase or decrease according to the current temperatures. A refrigerant leak prevents the system from completing these processes and cooling the home.

A refrigerant leak isn’t just damaging to the air conditioner but is also dangerous for the environment. If the compressor and major components don’t keep the home cooler, an HVAC technician uses specialized equipment to find the leak and fix it quickly. Inadequate refrigerant levels cause compressor damage and prevent the component from cooling the home. HVAC professionals conduct a fast inspection if the homeowner believes there is a refrigerant leak, and the technicians seal the leak completely.

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Undersized Air Conditioner

HVAC professionals recommend AC sizes according to the required BTUs needed to cool the home. They calculate the BTUs by finding the air of each living space and multiplying it by 25 BTUs. The technicians add up the total number of BTUs to find the appropriate unit size for the home. If an air conditioner is too small, it won’t cool the property as expected, and the owner pays higher energy costs.

If the HVAC experts determine the existing unit is too small, they recommend replacing the entire system. HVAC professionals offer the owner estimates for a new system. Homeowners might get some coverage for the replacement services if the product warranty is still valid.

Ductwork Damage & Leaks

image of a hvac ductworkThe ductwork circulates cool air from the air conditioner through the registers in each living space. Ductwork damage and breaks allow cool air to leak underneath the home. Warm air from outdoors could leak into the ductwork and circulate instead of the cool air. The home won’t stay at a comfortable temperature with ductwork leaks. HVAC technicians inspect the ductwork for damage and problem areas. They recommend repairs if the ductwork isn’t sealed and allows air leaks.

The Air Conditioner Registers Are Dirty or Blocked

Dust and dirt accumulate on registers if they’re installed on the floors or ceilings. HVAC technicians clean the registers during seasonal cleaning services. The technicians recommend cleaning the registers between seasonal maintenance tasks to manage debris. They vacuum out the ductwork to prevent blockages in or around the registers. Homeowners can keep furniture away from the registers and clean their flooring or ceilings regularly to control debris.

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Neglected Proper Air Conditioner Maintenance

Manufacturers outline all maintenance tasks for the air conditioning system, and the homeowner hires an HVAC professional to perform maintenance before the summer starts. All air conditioner systems come with a product warranty. A neglected air conditioner won’t perform as expected, and the lack of maintenance nullifies the product warranty.

Maintenance service includes seasonal cleaning, parts lubrication, and testing for all components. Some service providers offer a maintenance contract to help homeowners save on these services. A pre-season tune-up improves system operations and helps homeowners avoid costly repairs.

Exterior Fan Motor Problems

Debris around exterior fan motors causes air conditioner overheating, and the fan motor and compressor become damaged. Overheating fans cause tripping breakers and total system failures. HVAC technicians remove debris around the fan motor and protect the components. Seasonal cleaning services prevent these blockages and overheating risks.



Families need reliable cooling services for their homes to stay comfortable all summer long. Sudden air conditioning problems leave households at risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and they cannot finish everyday tasks if it’s too hot in their homes. Compressors are major AC components that might run, but the parts won’t cool the property if compressors are faulty.

Homeowners can schedule repairs and maintenance services to combat compressor problems and other cooling issues. Annual air conditioner maintenance is the best way to find simple problems and improve air conditioner operations without high costs. HVAC technicians offer inspections and troubleshoot signs of HVAC problems.

Homeowners schedule air conditioner repairs, comprehensive inspections, and maintenance to find AC problems and restore cooling services. Technicians prevent further issues if the customer schedules the services at the first of a problem.

Call Point Bay Fuel For All Your HVAC Needs


At Point Bay Fuel, our HVAC technicians perform heating and cooling services for all property owners in Ocean and Monmouth County, New Jersey. We hire only certified HVAC technicians with expertise and training in all heating and cooling systems. Our team performs tune-ups, new installations, repairs and more.

At Point Bay Fuel, we guarantee competitive rates for all heating and cooling services in the Jersey shoreline area. Our mission is to keep all homeowners and their families comfortable throughout the year. We calculate accurate estimates for all repair and installation costs, and our HVAC technicians help customers on a modest budget get the services they need. Call Point Bay Fuel today to get a comprehensive estimate for repairing or replacing your air conditioner.

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