If you haven't cleaned your outdoor unit's condenser coil or maintained the area around it in a long time, it's a good idea that you do so now. Depending on the area you live in, summer's heat can be stressful on your condenser coil by making it worker harder to eject heat out of the system. A struggling condenser coil may cause problems with the unit's compressor. Here are things to know about your condenser coil and steps you can follow to clean it before summer arrives.
How Does the Condenser Coil Work With Other Parts to Cool Your Home?
In order for your air conditioning system to cool the home, the system must remove heat from the air circulating through it. The system uses a number of important components, including the evaporator and the condenser, to do so. The evaporator coil is the large pyramid-shaped device found inside the air handler and the condenser coil is the large metal sheet wrapped around the outdoor unit's housing.
The evaporator coil is designed to remove heat from the air that travels through it. The liquid refrigerant inside the coil absorbs the heat and transfers it to the compressor located in the outdoor unit. The compressor is a type of motor that compresses liquid refrigerant into a extremely hot, high-pressure gas. The hot, compressed gas must convert back to a cool liquid before it travels back to the evaporator coil.
In order to convert back to a cool liquid, the hot gas must enter the condenser coil. The condenser coil extends around the entire length of the outdoor unit and features an array of small, metal pieces called fins. The fins are similar to skin pores because they allow air to flow through them. If the fins build up with dirt or mud, the condenser coil clogs up and can't eject its heat.
The heat retained inside the condenser coil has the potential to damage the compressor, which can burn out if it becomes too hot. A compressor isn't simple to repair if it stops working. In many cases, an air conditioning contractor will need to replace the compressor.
Cleaning the condenser coil helps you avoid the issues above.
How Do You Clean the Condenser Coil?
You'll need to turn off the cooling system before you clean the coil. Switch the system off at the circuit breaker and at the power supply box connected to the outdoor unit. Even if you haven't used the cooling system yet, live electricity can still travel through it and shock you.
You'll need to get a few things ready for the cleaning, including a garden hose with medium-speed tip and a fin comb. A fin comb not only breaks up debris stuck inside the fins of the coil, it may also straighten the fins out. Bent fins may not allow air to move freely out of the coil.
Also, obtain a large vinyl tarp and screwdriver. Now, here's what you do:
- Use the screwdriver to remove the metal casing surrounding the condenser coil. If the casing attaches to the top of the unit, you may need to unscrew and remove the top case as well.
- Place the vinyl tarp around the base of the outdoor unit to prevent water from running beneath the unit's concrete padding.
- Turn your water hose on, then position the nozzle somewhere at the very top of the coil.
- Move the nozzle back and forth, such as from left to right, until you reach the bottom of the coil. Repeat this step with all four sides of the coil.
- Position the fin comb at the top of the coil, then gently move your hand downward until you reach the base of the coil.
- Allow the coil and fins to dry thoroughly before replacing the case and top.
Return power to the cooling system. If at any time you notice severely warped, broken or bent fins on the coil, contact an air conditioning repair specialist for assistance. You may need to replace the condenser coil.
For more tips on how maintain a healthy air conditioning system, contact your HVAC contractors today.