As an essential mechanical device in many industrial applications, reciprocating compressors have a high demand for operating efficiency and availability. Because the temperature of each part of a reciprocating compressor depends considerably on operating conditions, faults in any parts will cause the variation of the temperature distribution, which provides the possibility to distinguish the fault type of reciprocating compressors by differentiating the distribution using infrared thermal imaging. In this paper, three types of common fault are laboratory experimented in an uncontrolled temperature environment. The temperature distribution signals of a reciprocating compressor are captured by a non-contact infrared camera remotely in the form of heat maps during the experimental process. Based on the temperature distribution under baseline condition, temperature fields of six main components were selected via Hue-Saturation-Value (HSV) image as diagnostic features. During the experiment, the average grayscale values of each component were calculated to form 6-dimension vectors to represent the variation of the temperature distribution. A computational efficient multiclass support vector machine (SVM) model is then used for classifying the differences of the distributions, and the classification results demonstrate that the average temperatures of six main components aided by SVM is a promising technique to diagnose the faults of reciprocating compressors under various operating conditions with a classification accuracy of more than 99%.