Because we feel the effects of our air conditioners while we are indoors, it can be easy to forget that an essential part of the cooling process takes place outside in the condenser unit. But when you’re condenser unit is malfunctioning, you’ll be sure to notice that something’s wrong. Today we’re going to help you understand what can go wrong with this essential part of your air conditioner by talking about common condenser unit problems and what you can do to avoid them!

What is the condenser unit?

Before we talk about what can go wrong with your condenser unit, it’s important to understand what the condenser unit does in the first place. When your air conditioner is on, warm indoor air from your home is blown over cold evaporator coils in the indoor portion of your system. The refrigerant inside of those coils absorbs the heat from your home’s air and carries it outside to the condenser unit.

The condenser unit is where the heat from your home is transferred to the air outside. Without it, the heat from your home would have nowhere to go and the temperatures would stay warm.

The condenser unit has a fan that blows air over a set of condenser coils that are housed inside of the unit. When air is blown over the coils, the heat from the refrigerant in the coils is transferred to the air outside, which is the final step in releasing heat from your home. The cooled-down refrigerant is then able to go back indoors to absorb more heat.

Common condenser unit problems

  • Blocked airflow.
  • To work properly, your condenser unit must have room to breathe. If you have any plants, trees, or other obstructions that are located next to your condenser unit, they will block the airflow and make it more difficult for your unit to blow the right amount of air over the coils.

  • Dirty coils. Over time, the dirt and debris that is blown around your condenser unit can build up both inside and out. If dirt builds up on the condenser coils, it becomes much harder for heat to transfer to the air outside. This typically causes your air conditioner to deliver warm air to your home.
  • Bent fins. The fins that surround the condenser unit can easily become bent if something comes into contact with them. If too many fins get bent, it can block air from flowing through the unit.
  • Fan problems. In addition to external issues causing airflow problems, the condenser unit’s fan itself can sometimes develop issues due to problems like a blown capacitor, motor issues, or a bent blade. When the fan isn’t working properly, your air conditioner doesn’t stand a chance of cooling your home effectively.
  • Refrigerant leak. Refrigerant leaks can develop both inside your condenser unit and in the lines that lead to and from it. If a leak develops, your system will have to work much harder and your home won’t cool down properly.

How to avoid condenser unit problems

Although some condenser unit problems are unavoidable, there are certainly some things you can do to help prevent issues from developing. The best way to avoid condenser unit problems is to get an air conditioner tune-up every year. During your tune-up, we’ll inspect the condenser unit for issues, perform a thorough cleaning and check your system’s refrigerant levels. In addition, you can help prevent issues by clearing the area around your condenser unit and making sure to trim bushes and cut the grass within at least a few feet of it.
If you have any questions about condenser unit problems, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning, your St. Charles, MO, air conditioning contractor. We provide service all over the St. Louis area, including towns like Dardenne Prairie, Des Peres and Frontenac, MO

photo credit: cuyahogajco via photopin (license)

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