If your home’s central air conditioning system is like most, it’s a split system. That means it has indoor and outdoor components: an indoor air handler and evaporator coil connected to the ductwork system, and an outdoor condenser cabinet. You pay more attention to the indoor parts, because you can hear the operation of the blower fan. The outdoor unit is a functional object that’s placed out of the way where it doesn’t detract from the exterior of the house.
We recommend you pay some attention to the condenser, however, particularly at this time of year. If the condenser becomes dirty or the area around it congested with branches, leaves, dirt, and other obstacles, the AC’s performance will suffer. We’ll explain why.
The Job of the Condenser
The condenser has more than one job, actually, as it houses several critical components for the air conditioner to work. The most important is the condenser, the “heart” of the AC system that places refrigerant under pressure so it circulates to move heat from inside the house to the outside. It also contains the condenser coils, where the heat carried from inside the home is released, and the condenser fan, which helps the coils release heat and then exhausts it.
It’s these last two parts that require the condenser cabinet be clean and clear.
A Blocked Condenser Makes an AC Inefficient
The condenser requires about a clear foot on all sides so the fan can draw enough air through the grills to allow the condenser coils to release heat. The warm air drawn from outdoors passes over the coils carrying hot gaseous refrigerant, which causes the refrigerant to condense into a liquid and cool down.
Without enough air pulled over the coils, they won’t release enough heat and the refrigerant will stay too warm. This makes it much harder for the air conditioner to cool down the house, and it will lose efficiency as it runs longer and longer to reach its temperature goal. The whole system can be in danger of overheating and shutting down.
Basic Condenser Maintenance
After a long summer of work, the condenser may have picked up plenty of dirt and dust. Another common trouble is grass from mowing the lawn, as well as garden mulch. This dirty layer clogs up the intakes for the fan. As a basic maintenance step, we recommend you clean off the cabinet with a hose on low pressure. Don’t blast water into the grills, since you risk damaging the coils.
Another standard step for condenser maintenance is to trim away branches, leaves, and other plant growth that might have come too close to the condenser and block it from properly “breathing.” Clear away pebbles and stones, piles of leaves, or anything else that might get pulled into the cabinet by accident.
During regular spring AC maintenance in New Braunfels, TX, our professionals will give the cabinet a thorough inspection and cleaning so it works its best. For now, at the end of summer, you can take care of these basic steps so the system will have an effective season closer.
Your comfort is our #1 priority at Thayer Air Conditioning! Call us for your AC services—we’re already on the way!