The condenser unit is perhaps the most vital component of a central AC system. Many people don't realize that the condenser is actually the large appliance on the outside of the house that is often called the air conditioner. No matter what you call it, the condenser needs to be cleaned and serviced on a regular basis. The most important element of a condenser unit is the coil system. This article explains how the coils work, why they are so vital to your AC system, and how to simply clean them.
Where Are the Coils?
You should be able to easily see the coils. They are behind the protective metal cage, but they make up the entire exterior and interior side walls of a condenser unit. The sheets of aluminum that you see are the coils. These are responsible for transferring heat out of your ducts and away from your condenser fan. Basically, they keep the condenser running efficiently and enable cold air to flow into your home. The coils are exposed to the elements, where they can get knocked, dented, dinged, and dirty over the years. The thin ridges are fragile, and dirt can get stuck in between the gaps. This dramatically slows down the efficiency of the coils and makes it harder for them to transfer heat. The ultimate result is that your unit needs to suck up more electricity in its efforts to transfer heat. Cleaning your coils and making sure they are straight is a cheap and easy way to ultimately reduce your utility bills.
How to Clean the Coils
First of all, it is a good idea to keep your condenser unit covered during the winter months. Even if you do this, your coils will probably get a little dirty overtime. And every couple of years, you should clean them.
A hose with a strong water stream is the most important tool when it comes to cleaning your coils. Usually, you can simply spray down the coils with a strong water stream to remove the majority of the dirt. If water alone does not get the job done, you might also want to use some soap to help break it down. If you have some bent coils, you can try straightening them with a flat head screw driver. It might also be worth investing in a coil straightening comb. These cheap, plastic tools make it easy to straighten multiple rows of coils at once.
Maintaining your coils is obviously easy. If you neglect this simple work for too long, you might end up with a more significant and expensive appliance repair.