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Is Your Compressor Overheating? Here’s Why.

A malfunction with your compressor can result in major issues, and the malfunction may be difficult to diagnose. If your compressor is getting excessively warm, these 4 reasons behind compressor overheating may explain why.

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Since a compressor is such an integral part of any system, overheating can be a catastrophe.

It can place personnel in danger, drastically reduce the efficiency of the expected output, affect the quality of a product, and more.

For the most part, preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid compressor overheating. However, other factors you may not have considered might be coming into play.

Factors of Compressor Overheating

When a compressor overheats, having a standard checklist of possible causes can reduce downtime and frustration.

Although it’s usually not possible to have a specialized mechanic on hand at all times to tend to the compressor, basic training and emphasis on procedure and safety can help your team keep your compressor cool and working properly.

Below are some common reasons for compressor overheating.

1. Problems With Oil

As a viscous liquid, oil may create a number of problems when paired with a compressor.

Sometimes, in certain conditions, oil may become sluggish. This is attributable to a number of factors.

Oil which is sluggish can retain heat instead of acting as a coolant or lubricant.

The longer oil remains in a system, the greater the chance that it will become

  • Thick
  • Slow
  • Sludgy

Although they may be visible to the naked eye, tiny particles of water, dirt, or chemicals may slowly collect to foul the oil.

It can also oxidize if the compressor is continuously subjected to high heat, which means that it breaks down and can cause damage to attendant parts.

Oil which is subject to unusually cold weather usually becomes sluggish as well; this is a particular danger if a compressor is located in the field or open conditions.

Oil can also become a culprit if it is not present in sufficient quantities. It plays a vital role in helping valves to seal.

Oil must be present in the right amounts and of the proper viscosity to best serve your system. If valve seals or oil seals are not doing their jobs, it could be because oil levels are too thin.

Overheating of Compressors and Equipment -

2. External Cooling is Lacking

Some systems require external cooling to keep the system, particularly the compressor, working at its best.

Since the compressor might be in continual motion throughout its work cycle, it will generate heat in addition to other working parts of the system.

Certain assembly lines or machines can be fitted with an alarm system to alert you if the external temperature has reached dangerous levels; this can lead you to diagnosing and addressing the problem before you must also tend to a damaged compressor.

The temperatures of any discharge lines should be carefully checked if a compressor is overheating. This can indicate a problem either in the field or in the indoor environment of the compressor. For example, your air conditioning systems may have broken down, resulting in higher temperatures than usual. Luckily, services provided by those similar to this Nampa commercial HVAC firm can fix your air conditioning systems quickly, getting the temperature back down to where it should be.

  • If high temperatures in the outdoors are preventing a compressor from maintaining an efficient temperature, solutions such as tents or blowers may be available to you.
  • In the event of a lack of external cooling in the indoors, it’s important to check on the amount of heat your system normally produces, especially when surrounded by employees and other equipment.
  • Technicians, engineers, operators, and architects can work together to ensure that the external temperature around your system, particularly surrounding your compressor, are safely and efficiently managed. Temperatures can rise quickly when large or complex systems are working continuously or at capacity.

Ensuring that your employees are comfortable and your equipment maintained at safe temperatures can prevent your compressor from overheating as well.

Tending to proper environmental temperatures can lower utility bills while also providing for a greener facility.

Some states, organizations, or other agencies even provide grants or tax deductions if your facility is insulated or moderated by certain standards.

3. Presence and Failure to Protect From Acid

Environmental concerns outside of problems with temperature are easy to overlook or take for granted.

If a compressor is in the constant presence of acid and it has either not been deigned to withstand it to a certain degree or is overexposed to particularly corrosive types, acid can cause a host of problems, not the least of which is compressor overheating.

How does this happen?

Acid by its nature is highly corrosive. While its effects may not be immediately noticeable, it can cause system parts to deteriorate over time.

  • In especially important and complex components such as compressors, this can build up in parts which are usually hidden by other sections of the system.
  • Checking on possible corrosion should be a regular part of preventative maintenance.

However, acid can work slowly and cause changes which are not perceptible to the naked eye. When this takes place, and the problem is left unchecked, you could find yourself with an overheated compressor with little idea as to how it happened.

While acids usually don’t dissolve oil or oil-based material, certain agents, such as cleaning detergents, can cause a corrosive reaction.

Being on guard against spilled materials or the presence of reactive materials can help to avoid this problem.

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4. Compression Ratio and Why It Matters

Understanding compression ratio is an important part of comprehending how your compressor works and helping it to avoid potential overheating.

Compression ratio is the capacity of fuel and air mixture an engine holds while empty compared to the amount it can hold when the air-fuel mixture is at the point in the compressor cycle when it is pushed down to its smallest size.

A high compression ratio means that thermal efficiency is higher.

While this might seem like a positive when it comes to conserving fuel, a high compression ration might result in decreased efficiency.

The compressor might even become damaged.

Checking on the pressure ratio can help you check on the health of your compressor and system. It can also diagnose the source if you find that your compressor is overheating.

A high compression ratio, however, also results in increased evaporation, which might lead to standing water if it is not properly vented. That can cause oxidation and further complications with the compressor.

Maintaining a healthy, constant compression ratio is best. In case you are finding it difficult to maintain a constant ratio, you can contact a reputable company that specializes in air conditioning installations and repairs. They might provide you with the necessary assistance, that would prevent the breakdown of the compressor.


Compressor overheating issues are common, but they can be avoided.

The four most common reasons for overheating is:

  1. Oil Problems: either due to a viscous liquid, oxidization, or insufficient oil quantities.
  2. Lack of External Cooling: due to external temperatures or lack of cooling indoors.
  3. Presence of Acid: this corrodes the equipment over time.
  4. Incorrect compressor ratio: too high of a ratio which may lead to decreased efficiency and potential oxidization.

Malfunctioning or broken compressors can lead to a variety of issues including safety concerns, reduced efficiency and productivity, and reduced quality of the product.

Check your compressor thoroughly and regularly to avoid potential overheating.

If you notice that the internal compressor valve parts are becoming worn, contact KB Delta for replacement parts immediately.

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