Air conditioners serve one simple function--to keep you cool when the weather is hot--yet that doesn't mean that their mechanical make-up is equally simple. All it takes is one bad component to negatively affect your entire system. If you would like to learn more about keeping your AC running the way it should, read on. This article will teach you how to troubleshoot problems related to the condenser coils.
Condenser Coil Overview
The condenser coils live inside of the condensing unit--i.e. that large, mysterious box taking up space on the side of your home. The condenser coils serve one of your air conditioner's most important jobs: cooling off the warm air drawn into the condenser from your home. This task is accomplished by the refrigerant inside of the coils.
As the refrigerant absorbs heat, it turns from a liquid to a gas. The condenser motor then turns on, using energy to compress the refrigerant back to its liquid state. Unfortunately, damage and dirt both tend to impede the proper functioning of the condenser coils. This may cause your AC to work much harder than it should--thus driving up your energy bills--or even stop working altogether.
Signs That You've Got A Problem
Fortunately, it is fairly easy to detect condenser coil problems. In their early stages, such problems will impact the effectiveness of your system. Thus you may find that your AC doesn't seem to be cooling as well as it used to--or that you have to turn the thermostat much lower than previously, just to ensure the same results.
Visual clues also tend to accrue outside near the condensing unit. There you may notice a greater than usual amount of dripping, leaking, or puddling water. Peering into the condenser unit, you may also notice that there seems to be an excessive amount of condensation--or even ice--gathered on the condenser coils.
Begin by disconnecting the AC from its power source, in order to protect you against risk of electrical shock. Now head outside and spend a few minutes trimming back any grass or shrubs near your condensing unit. Ideally you want to ensure a minimum clearance of 2' on each side of the condenser.
With these preliminaries taken care of, you can now move on to removing the screws located on top of the condenser unit. Lifting this panel away will allow you to access the coils. Use either a broom or a stiff scrub brush to remove any large chunks of dirt, yard waste, or other debris that may be stuck to the coils.
Now it's time to get those coils all the way clean using your garden hose. A sprayer attachment will help generate the force necessary to scrub free stubborn dirt. Don't be worried about this water harming your AC; all of the electrical components are safely sealed away, meaning you are free to spray down those coils until they are clean as new.
For more information and assistance with repairs, contact a professional HVAC contractor, such as those at HVAC & R Solution.