The air conditioner (AC) compressor changes the liquid refrigerant to a high-pressure gas to facilitate heat exchange and cool your house. The compressor motor has electrical windings that use electricity to rotate the motor. Below is an overview of winding problems that might affect the motor's operation.

Types of Winding Problems

AC compressor motors suffer three main problems.

1. Open Windings

Electricity flows through the motor windings to create an electric field. The electric field creates an electromagnetic force that spins the motor. An open winding occurs when something cuts one or more of the windings. The cut prevents electrical flow through part of the windings, reduces the electric field strength, reduces electromagnetic force, and interferes with the motor's spin.

2. Grounded Windings

A grounded winding occurs when a naked winding touches a conductor it shouldn't touch. For example, a naked winding might ground the system if it touches the motor's core or frame. The grounding diverts electricity from the winding to other system parts, interfering with its normal operations. Any damage that cuts or strips the winding insulation can ground the motor.

3. Shorted Windings

The motor works if electricity only flows along the windings. A problem arises if something damages and strips the insulation of adjacent windings. In such a case, electricity will flow between the windings, causing a short circuit. Apart from interfering with the motor's operation, the shorted windings can also trigger electrical arcs, overheating, and further damage.

Causes of Winding Problems

Anything that damages the windings or interferes with their normal arrangements can cause problems. Below are a few of these issues.

Wear and Tear

All AC motors wear and tear every time they run. The environment and motor maintenance determine the wear and tear rate. Aging motors experience material degradation that can lead to insulation damage and associated problems.


Overheating can damage windings enough to cause shorting, grounding, or open winding problems. Anything that overworks the motor can overheat it. For example, the AC motor can overheat if you are using an undersized AC. Under sizing causes the AC to run long cycles, denying it time to cool.

Poor air circulation can also overheat the motor. For example, dirt can clog the motor and prevent heat escape, causing the windings to overheat and deteriorate.

Electrical Problems

Each motor works best with electrical power within a given range. An electrical problem that floods the motor with electricity increases the windings' resistance and overheats them. For example, a voltage surge can damage the motor.

For help with compressor issues, contact a local AC repair service.