AC Maintenance: Condenser Coil

Video Transcript

Condenser Coil 101

Dean:        All right, let’s talk what’s next. Condenser coil, what is it and what does it do?

George:    Well, a condenser coil is on the outside of the house. It’s like the radiator of the unit pretty much. So, in the summertime it’s rejecting heat and if it’s the heat pump in the wintertime, it’s absorbin’ heat from the air outside to give you heat in the house. On the AC unit, it’s biggest job is get rid of the heat. If you don’t get rid of the heat off the unit, then your unit’s not gonna perform right.

Dirty Coil Maintenance

Dean:        You ever been to a house that had a dryer vent next to a heat and air unit?

George:    Oh, yeah.

Dean:        And what was the coil full of?

George:    Lint.

Dean:        Or how about the guy cuts the grass and he throws the grass clippings towards the unit?

George:    Yep. You remove the panels and it’s like a blanket of grass, dead grass all over the coil.

Dean:        So, the high head pressure would show up. And your unit’s not coolin’ properly ’cause it can’t get rid of the heat. So, cleaning the coil and checking the coil conditions is very important.

George:    That’s right.

Dean:        That’s part of coil conditions, right?

George:    Yep.

Dean:        All right, so when you’re cleaning the coil, what are you doing?

George:    It can be rinsed off if it’s not much on there.

Dean:        Like dust.

George:    Yeah, if just a layer of dust, you can rinse it off. If it’s got a lotta buildup, there’s different coil cleaners that you can spray on them based on how dirty the coil is. I like using a foaming coil cleaner. It goes down in the coil and it kinda pushes all the dirt back out of the coil. Then rinse ’em off real good with water to make sure everything’s clean.

Dean:        It’s kinda like going to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned, ain’t it?

George:    Yep. Anything that’s gonna restrict the flow of air through this coil is gonna affect the system.

Dean:        There you go.

Damaged Coil Maintenance

George:    As far as the performance efficiency of it. A lot of the units, the coils are exposed so a lot of times kids out in the yard playing baseball, soccer, and everything, the coils get hit by balls all the time. And every time they hit, they flatten out the fins so that’s gonna affect the performance of the system. They’re all dented in and gotta comb out to get ’em back open so air can go through ’em.

Dean:        So, if you’re using a brand that doesn’t have a cover, you really need to straighten all those out. If you have one of those type units. What is the potential savings by cleaning and servicing the unit?

Efficiency and Savings

George:    Well then, if you got one that’s the coils are dirty, filters are dirty, indoor coil’s dirty, it’s just been–

Dean:        Freon charge off.

George:    The Freon charge could be off. You could go 30% more efficient on a system.

Dean:        So, that means putting some coins in your pocket.

George:    Yep.

Dean:        How ’bout the potential of lettin’ it run for an extra five to seven years?

George:    Well, yeah. It’s gonna extend the life of the unit, definitely.

Dean:        So, what does the typical change out run? Anywhere between six and $8,000?

George:    On average.

Dean:        I don’t know many people that have that kind of bucks layin’ around. That’s why we have a really nice financing program too, so anyway. (laughing)


These are the steps a service tech uses on a maintenance check for your AC condenser coil.

What is a Condenser Coil?

A condenser coil changes refrigerant from gas to liquid in your AC system – it “condenses”.
A condenser coil is on the outside of the house. In the winter, if it’s a heat pump, it’s absorbing heat from the air outside. In the summer, it’s like the radiator of the AC unit – its biggest job is to get rid of the heat. If that doesn’t happen, the unit won’t perform efficiently.

Dirty condenser coil

Anything restricting the flow of air through the coil is going to affect the system’s performance, meaning the unit won’t cool properly. The two main causes of restricted airflow on a condenser coil are debris buildup and bent coil fins.

How to Clean AC Condenser Coils

1. Rinse the Coil

rinsing condenser coil

Rinse the coil with a water hose to remove dust, dryer lint, grass clippings, and other debris. This will help loosen any caked-on debris that is blocking your AC Condenser Coil, and it will allow our cleaning solution to penetrate deep into the coil to remove any remaining debris.

2. Use a Foaming Cleaner

Condenser Coil foaming cleaner

For heavier buildups, we recommend using a foaming AC Condenser Coil Cleaner. This cleaner will penetrate deep into dirt and debris to loosen it from the coil, making it easier to rinse off. Once the cleaner has settled on the coil, rinse the coil with water.

Condenser Coil Fin Straightening

coil fin straightening comb

Any contact with exposed condenser coil fins, whether from a stray baseball, soccer ball, or something else, can bend the small fins and restrict airflow. These fins need to be combed out and straightened with a special tool by an HVAC professional in order to allow air to move freely through them. Schedule a service call today for AC Maintenance and condenser coil fin straightening.

Energy Efficiency

energy efficiency icon

Dirty coils can degrade a unit’s efficiency by up to 40%. Cleaning the coils could extend the life of the unit, possibly by 5-7 years. The average changeout costs $6,000-$8,000, so simple maintenance can mean BIG savings!

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