Air Conditioning 101: What is a Scroll Compressor in HVAC?

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Most people know that air conditioners have compressors that regulate the pressure of the refrigerant flowing through the HVAC system. However, there are multiple types of compressors used in different units, such as reciprocating compressors, piston compressors, rotary screw compressors, single stage compressors, and more.

In this article, we take a look at scroll compressors, which are also called vacuum pumps, scroll pumps, or spiral compressors. Read on to know what this component does for your air conditioner, how to detect a faulty compressor, and how to properly maintain your unit to keep it durable for longer.

What is a Scroll Compressor?

A scroll compressor, sometimes called a spiral compressor, is a type of compressor commonly used in HVAC systems. A scroll compressor works by compressing refrigerant in a spiral motion, creating a smooth and quiet operation for air conditioning systems.

Scroll compressors work via a swirling, spiral motion. Refrigerant gas moves towards the middle of the scroll compressor, where small pockets of compressed air cause the refrigerant to increase its pressure and temperature, compressing the coolant.

The Importance of Scroll Compressors

The compressor is one of the most essential components of an air conditioner, responsible for compressing the refrigerant to increase its pressure. The compressed air moves around the AC unit, and draws heat away from the surrounding air, cooling the room in the process. Most air conditioners work with reciprocating compressors.

Unlike the traditional reciprocating compressor, which has multiple cylinders to compress air or refrigerant, scroll compressors operate with one compression component. A scroll pump is known for its efficiency, silence, and reliability. It is increasingly used in HVAC systems for enhanced comfort, energy-efficiency, and low-maintenance operations.

Diagnosing a Faulty Scroll Compressor

#1 Loud Sounds Coming from the Air Conditioner

Scroll compressors are meant to be quiet, so any loud noise coming from your air conditioner is a cause for concern. One of the most common symptoms of a failing scroll compressor is a loud noise coming from the compressor unit of the air conditioner.

When this happens, shut off your AC unit to avoid further damages to your HVAC system. Check if the scroll compressor is overheating or has visible damage. Contact a reputable aircon repair shop to check your unit for any faults.

#2 Compressor Unit is Overheating

Overheating air conditioners is a common indication of a faulty compressor - regardless of type. Whether you have a reciprocating compressor, piston compressors, single stage units, or scroll compressors, an overheating unit is a sign that the air conditioner is no longer functioning the way it should.

The best course of action is to unplug the air conditioner, and let the AC unit cool. This will prevent any further damage to your unit. Contact a licensed HVAC technician to check your air conditioning system, and locate the source of the problem to fix it.

#3 Air Conditioner is Not Cooling

If your AC unit is not cooling the room at all, there may be problems with various components in your HVAC system. Dirty filters, frozen coils, and refrigerant leaks all cause the AC unit to blow warm air instead of cool air, as does a failing scroll compressor.

To narrow down the root cause of the issue, shut off the air conditioner, and give the filter a good wash to clean it. Let it dry, and see if that fixes the problem. If not, examine if the coils are frozen, and look out for other signs of aircon problems, such as a chloroform-like smell that indicates a refrigerant leak. Contact a technician for a full diagnosis.

Air Conditioner Scroll Compressor Maintenance

Scroll compressors are generally low-maintenance components of air conditioners. According to the manufacturer for Copeland scroll compressors, these types of compressors have 70% less mobile parts compared to other types of compressors, which make scroll compressors more durable and require little maintenance.

Proper aircon maintenance is a must for keeping the entire unit in good shape. It is important to have your air conditioner undergo a checkup at least once every 6 months to maintain the unit, and reinforce any weakened parts before they cause issues later on.

Cleaning your air conditioner filter every 2 weeks is part of good maintenance, and you should also have professionals clean your unit every 4-6 months to remove any deep-seated dirt and debris from its internal parts.

Look no further than Luce Aircon when it comes to HVAC upkeep! Our experienced technicians are knowledgeable in different aircon components, so you can be sure we'll have your AC unit up and running smoothly! From general maintenance to diagnosing and repairs, our technicians can serve all models and brands of AC's across Singapore.

Give us a call today, and we can work on an aircon maintenance schedule to keep your unit in good condition for years to come!

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