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)

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 can’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
We will rinse the coil with a water hose to remove dust, dryer lint, grass clippings, fur (if you have outdoor pets,) and other debris.

2. Use a Foaming Cleaner

Condenser Coil foaming cleaner
If there is heavier build up, we’ll often use a foaming coil cleaner, and then rinse that off with water.

Condenser Coil Fin Straightening

coil fin straightening comb
Contact with exposed condenser coil fins, such as by a stray baseball or soccer ball, can bend the small fins and restrict airflow. The fins need to be combed out and straightened with a special tool in order to allow air to move freely through them.

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 5-7 years. An average changeout costs $6,000-$8,000. So simple maintenance can mean BIG savings!

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