Fall Outdoor AC Maintenance: Why Should You Clean Your Condenser Coil and How?

When the weather begins to cool down in the fall, you may turn off your cooling system for the rest of the year. After you shut down your cooling system, don't forget to check and clean the system and then make any necessary repairs to the system, including to the unit outside your home. The outdoor unit, or condenser, can stop working next summer if its cooling coil contains grass and dirt. Cleaning the unit now may help you avoid trouble later. Here's why, when, and how you need to clean the condenser coil.

Why Do You Need to Clean the Condenser Coil?

The outdoor unit relies on a condenser coil to remove or expel heat from it during operation. The snake-like coil wraps around the main housing of the unit and typically sits behind an outer shell or cage that protects it from damage. Over the summer season, the coil picks up dirt and other debris during windy or rainy weather as well as when you mow or trim your grass. Plants such as weeds and crab grass can also grow inside the small fins on the coil and block the flow of air through it. 

The coil generally connects directly to a compressor motor, which sits near the lower half of the unit. The compressor transfers heated refrigerant to the coil, which cools it down. If the coil clogs up with debris, the system can't expel the heat from the refrigerant. In most cases, the heat backs up into the compressor until the compressor begins to fail or burn out.

To avoid these pressing issues next summer, take the time to clean your condenser coil.

How Do You Clean the Coil Properly?

The first thing you can do is ensure that the AC system isn't on or receiving electrical power. Turn off the system at your circuit breaker and outdoor power box. Next, manually pull out any grass and weeds that surround the condenser unit. Electric or gas-powered tools can fling more debris inside the unit.

Now, do the following things:

  1. Remove the cage from the unit with a screwdriver. 
  2. Place a water hose on a very low setting, and then gently wash down the condenser coil. If you begin at the top of the coil, you can work your way down. This keeps muddy water from sticking and drying to its fins.
  3. Examine the condition of the fins. If they appear squished, warped, or broken, contact an AC contractor for help. Damaged fins can keep the coil from working properly.
  4. Allow the entire unit to dry before replacing the cage.

Your outdoor unit is now ready for next year. 

If you need further assistance with your cooling system, contact an HVAC contractor such as Always Ready Repair today.