Is your air conditioning system low on compressor oil? Even if you’ve never seen it, your air conditioning system probably has compressor oil. It’s found inside of the compressor. Manufacturers may add compressor oil when producing compressors, or a technician may add it when installing compressors. Over time, however, your air conditioning system may lose some of its compressor oil, which can lead to cooling problems.
The Basics of Compressor Oil
Compressor oil is a lubricating oil that’s designed for use in the compressor of an air conditioning system. It’s available in two types of formulas: mineral and synthetic. In the past, mineral was the most common type of compressor oil, but it has since been replaced with synthetic compressor oil.
Mineral compressor oil is typically used in air conditioning systems that run R22 refrigerant, whereas synthetic compressor oil is used in newer air conditioning systems that run non-R22 refrigerant. They aren’t interchangeable. If your air conditioning system is low on compressor oil, you’ll need to refill it with the type that it currently uses.
The Importance of Compressor Oil
You might be wondering why your air conditioning system needs compressor oil. Compressor oil serves several purposes, one of which is to reduce friction. It’s added to the compressor. The compressor, of course, features a large fan with spinning blades. The compressor fan will run automatically when your air conditioning system is running.
Over time, friction can wear down the compressor fan. Compressor oil works to protect the compressor fan, as well as other parts, from friction-related damage. It will lubricate the compressor’s parts so that they can move more easily while generating less friction.
Another reason air conditioning systems have compressor oil is to minimize heat. Compressors will generate heat. After all, hot refrigerant must flow through them. And during this process, some of the compressor’s parts will move. Compressor oil will both lubricate the compressor’s part and remove heat.
Signs of Low Compressor Oil
Unusual noises may indicate low compressor oil. If you hear grinding, squealing or humming noises coming from your air conditioning system’s compressor, it may need more compressor oil.
You may notice a visible leak if your air conditioning system is low on compressor oil. Compressor oil is designed to operate in a closed system. In other words, it should only be low if it leaks out of the compressor. You can look around your air conditioning system’s compressor to see if it’s leaking oil.