Air conditioning system condenser coils play one of the biggest roles in an air conditioner’s cooling process. But because those coils are located outside, they are susceptible to dirt buildup over time. If you don’t do anything to keep your coils clean, your residential air conditioner can encounter some very serious problems.

Today we’re going to talk about what happens when your Coachella Valley air conditioner has dirty condenser coils and what you can do to keep your coils clean!

What are condenser coils?

Before we talk about what happens when your condenser coils are dirty, let’s take a second to explain what exactly condenser coils are. Condenser coils are located in your air conditioner’s outdoor unit. Refrigerant, which carries heat from inside your home, travels through the condenser coils. As your outdoor unit blows air over the condenser coils, the heat from the refrigerant is transferred to the air outside, effectively removing the heat from your home.

How do condenser coils get dirty?

Because condenser coils are located outside, they are exposed to the dirt, debris and other elements from the environment outdoors. Dirt naturally builds up on the condenser coils over time as your air conditioner operates, and that buildup can get severe if you don’t do anything to remove it.

Dirty AC condenser coils

What happens when your air conditioner has dirty condenser coils?

  • Your home won’t cool properly. When dirt builds up on your condenser coils, it produces a layer on the coils that acts as a barrier between the air that’s blown over the coils and the heat inside the refrigerant that flows through them. This makes it harder for heat to transfer from the coils to the air outside, which means that heat will not be adequately removed from your home. If your home is not staying as cool as you’d like, dirty condenser coils might be to blame.
  • Your energy bills will be high. Because dirty condenser coils make it difficult for your air conditioner to cool your home, you system will have to work much harder and longer to try and compensate. This leads to high cooling bills because your system will have to consume much more energy than usual.
  • Your system might break down. Any time that your air conditioner has to work harder than normal, the chances of it breaking down greatly increase. Given how hot it gets here in the Coachella Valley, anything that inhibits the cooling process can quickly lead to performance issues.

5 AC Condenser Unit Maintenance Tips for Coachella Valley Homeowners

  1. Call and schedule your annual tune-up. This is an easy one, because all it takes is a simple phone call to Hyde’s! In order to ensure your condenser unit works great this summer, scheduling a tune-up is essential. During a tune-up, we’ll take care of the necessary professional maintenance tasks like cleaning your condenser unit, checking for refrigerant leaks in and around your condenser unit and inspecting all of its internal parts. Most of the rest of the tips on this list can be taken care of by you, but it’s important to get the professional maintenance and repairs out of the way first!
  2. Keep your condenser unit clear of debris. Because your condenser unit is located outside, leaves, twigs, grass, dirt and other debris can build up on it over time. This can block airflow through the unit, which will decrease its efficiency levels. If you ever notice anything stuck on your condenser unit, be sure to remove it.
  3. Trim or remove landscaping near your unit. Another common airflow issue with condenser units is when bushes, plants or tall grass grow around the unit. Landscaping like this can block airflow to your unit, so your condenser will have to work extra hard to pull air through it. To avoid this, trim back bushes, cut your grass and avoid planting anything within a few feet of your unit.
  4. Listen for strange noises. Often times when there is a problem with the condenser unit, it will start to make loud and strange noises while it’s operating. If you hear anything out of the ordinary coming from your condenser unit, be sure to give us a call so we can inspect it promptly and uncover the issue.
  5. Straighten your unit’s fins. The fins that surround condenser units can bend over time due to wind, flying debris or contact by animals. When the fins are bent, it makes it much more difficult for air to flow in and out of the unit. Consider purchasing a condenser fin comb to straighten out the rough patches in the fins. If you choose to use a fin comb, be careful not to use it too forcefully because the fins are delicate and can be damaged if you brush them too hard.

How can you keep your condenser coils clean?

The best way to keep your condenser coils clean is to schedule an air conditioner tune-up every year with Hyde’s or sign up for our HVAC Family Comfort Plan. During your tune-up, we’ll perform a full-system cleaning, which includes a thorough cleaning of your condenser coils. These coils are hard to access, which is why this is a job that’s best left to a professional.

If you are already signed up for our Family Comfort Plan your HVAC tune up is already included. 

If you have any questions about dirty condenser coils, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Hyde’s, your Indio, CA, air conditioning contractor.

photo credit: daylove via photopin (license)