Why Is My Air Conditioner Overheating? A Portland Tech Explains

When your AC overheats, your AC can become damaged and shut down.

So, what causes an AC to overheat in the first place? ACs typically overheat and shut down when a particular AC part is overworked, which strains the rest of the system.

The three most common AC parts that can overheat are:

  • The compressor
  • The fan motor
  • The capacitor

In this blog, we’ll explain what causes these parts to overheat and how you can prevent it in the future.

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Part #1: The compressor

The compressor is the most integral part of your AC system because it pumps refrigerant throughout the entire system. Refrigerant is a cold, chemical agent that absorbs heat and moisture from the air inside your home.

That said, without a functional compressor, your AC would not be able to cool your home.

So why would a compressor overheat and shut down?

The compressor in the outdoor unit

A common issue that causes the compressor to overheat is a dirty outdoor unit. The compressor is located in your AC’s outdoor unit and when this unit is covered in grime/dirt/leaves, the compressor can’t work properly, which forces the AC to run longer and harder. Eventually, the compressor overworks itself and the AC overheats.

To fix an overheated compressor, call an HVAC technician to clean your outdoor unit.

Part #2: The fan motor

Your AC’s blower motor sits in the indoor AC unit and is designed to pull in warm air from your home and blow out cold air throughout your home. The motor is vital to your AC functioning because it sucks in warm air from your home that is then cooled by your AC system.

If this motor overheats, the motor will shut down and your AC will stop working.

A typical reason for your blower motor overheating is a clogged air filter. When the air filter is clogged, the blower motor has to work harder to pull warm air into the system, which can cause the motor to overheat.

To keep your fan motor from overheating, you’ll want to check your air filter every 2 months. If the filter is dirty like in the picture below, you’ll want to replace it.

Clean air filter versus clogged air filter

Clean vs dirty air filter

Part #3: The capacitor

Most AC systems have three capacitors, which are used to help kickstart the indoor blower motor, compressor and condenser fan motors. If a capacitor overheats, the motor it assists can’t start up and the entire AC system won’t function properly.

Capacitors are likely to overheat because of:

  • A malfunctioning relay switch
  • Power surges
  • Old age

To fix an overheated capacitor, you’ll need to contact an HVAC professional to replace the part.

The best way to prevent your AC from overheating

AC maintenance is an effortless way to keep your AC from overheating. We highly recommend investing in yearly AC maintenance. During the maintenance visits, your HVAC technician will catch and fix any potential problems that could cause overheating.

Is your AC overheating? Contact Four Seasons

Our Portland technicians are highly skilled at AC repair and can handle any brand or model. We also provide easy 2-hour appointment slots and same-day service.

If you’d like to look into maintenance plans, our plan is affordable and comes with perks like 15% off discounts and priority scheduling.

Schedule with us today!