Air conditioners move heat from the interior of a building to the exterior. The condenser coil plays an important role in this process. The coil is usually made of aluminum and wraps around the compressor.
The refrigerant in the system starts out as a liquid and changes to gas in the indoor coil and then travels to the compressor, which is under high pressure. The gas heats up, exits the compressor and goes through the coil. The refrigerant returns to liquid form as it enters the inside unit and the cycle repeats.
A clogged condenser coil prevents the gas from cooling down enough to achieve liquid form. The system cannot cool the air even though the air conditioner continues to run. In some cases, it blows hot air. The compressor overheats and sometimes will break down completely. This is why it is important to clean debris from the coil on a regular basis. Follow these steps to clean the coil:
You need only a few tools. Gather together the proper size wrenches to remove the fan, a spray bottle to apply cleaning solution and a garden hose equipped with a nozzle. Turn the power to the outdoor unit off. Look for the disconnect switch near the condenser. Remove the fan.
If possible, set it aside without disconnecting any wires. Use the hose to apply water to the coil. Be careful near the fins because high water pressure can bend them. Spray the coil with cleaning solution and let it work in before rinsing it off. Install the fan and turn the unit on.
You can use any household cleaner on the coil. Automobile radiator cleaners work well. A foaming cleaner is a good choice if the condensers are extremely dirty. Any local plumbing supply retailer will have cleaning solutions for coils. Some contain strong chemicals and require wearing eye protection and gloves when using them.
Cleaning the condenser coil regularly will ensure your air conditioning system operates properly and efficiently at all times. Performing this simple maintenance task is a simple way to save on your electric bills during the times when you are running your air conditioning the most. When the coil is clean, the compressor runs cooler, which means it will last longer. You should clean your condenser coil once every year.
If you live in a dusty area, you will have to clean it several times throughout the year. Avoid clogging up the coil with grass clippings when mowing the lawn. Trim back shrubbery, flowers and plants to prevent it from clogging the coil. Anything that interferes with air flow over the coil will result in decreased performance.
You can do many things to save money and prevent your air conditioning system from working harder than it needs to. Periodic inspection of the system and cleaning the coil on a regular basis are worth the time and effort because they save money on operating costs.