The high temperatures of summer are upon us and AC units are being strained on a daily basis. If your AC system is not working as reliably and efficiently as last summer, you may have a problem with one of the main components of the system, the condenser.
How It Works
In general, AC systems work by moving a high temperature, high pressure refrigerant gas through a series of tubes and machines to transport the interior, hot air to the outside and cooled exterior air in the opposite direction. The condenser is the part of the system that cools the heated gaseous, refrigerant and condenses it back into a cooled, liquid form. This cooling is accomplished by blowing air across the condensing coils.
Identifying the Problem
There are several places where an AC condenser can experience problems. An AC condenser repair need not be expensive and starts with an identification of the problem.
Dirty Condenser Coils
One of the simplest solutions to a poorly functioning AC condenser is to clean the condenser coils. A buildup of leaves, dust or other debris can significantly reduce its ability to dissipate the heat in the enclosed gas. To clean, simply turn off the unit, physically remove any large pieces of debris and then hose under moderate pressure. The system is sealed so the water will not cause any damage to the equipment.
Similarly, air flow can be obstructed by plants, fences or other objects. Be sure that the air flow to the fan and through the condenser coils is free and unobstructed. When standing by the AC unit and in the path of the exiting air, you should feel a significant amount of heat coming off of the unit. Otherwise, the unit is not working properly.
Leaks and/or Low Coolant Level
The AC condenser depends on a sufficient amount of coolant to operate properly. A certain amount escapes from the system over time but a leak can cause a rapid and significant drop in refrigerant levels that will lead to a poorly functioning condenser. A routine AC condenser repair by a licensed professional air conditioning contractor will check for leaks and adjust the refrigerant to the proper level.