What is an AC Condenser, and Why is it Important?

What is an AC Condenser?

An air conditioning system is ultimately composed of two main components: the evaporator coil and the condenser. Other parts, such as the thermostat and air handlers, aid in the function, but the primary functions are provided by the two main parts. The part of your A/C system with most of the mechanics is the condenser unit, which includes an AC compressor, air conditioner condenser coils, capacitor, contactor, condenser fan, and a fan motor.

The condenser is the outdoor unit on a split AC system, mini split AC units or heat pump and is designed to collect or release heat depending on the time of year.

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How to Maintain an AC Condenser (#1)

In most cases, your condenser for the AC unit will be located outside the home, making it more prone to the accumulation of dirt, dust, and debris. Because of this, regular maintenance is important to ensure the proper functioning of your unit.

While regular maintenance of your air conditioning condenser unit will be performed with your regular HVAC maintenance, if you DIY your maintenance or feel there has been a lot of accumulation on the unit between maintenance visits, there are a few simple steps to follow to get the unit cleaned.

The condenser coil will need to be cleaned on the intake side, so you will want to see which way the air moves across the coils before powering it up to see which side you will need to clean. After identifying the part of the coil you will need to clean, you will want to follow the steps below.

  1. Cut away any tall grasses, weeds, brush, or overhanging branches that could restrict the airflow of your unit.
  2. Use coil cleaner to clean the condenser, and then rinse with a bucket of water and let it dry completely.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt, grime, and corrosion from the fins of the unit. Avoid using a hose on the unit as it could turn easy-to-remove dirt into mud and push it in further. When cleaning the fins, be gentle as they can easily bend. If you notice any bent fins, use a fin comb to straighten them out.
  4. Once done, check the pad your unit lays on to ensure it is level. If it is not, add gravel or rocks so that the surface is completely flat.

When your system is done being used for the season, put on a protective cover. This will prevent falling leaves and deter critters from making nests inside when the weather cools.

When Should an AC Condenser be Replaced?(#2)

While your outdoor condenser unit may have problems or parts, such as the capacitor, need to be replaced, most units will not need to be replaced until they start giving you some significant issues, such as:

  • Reduced cooling capacity: If you notice that the indoor air is coming out less cool, and you have the thermostat at the appropriate temperature, there could be an issue with the condenser's ability to circulate refrigerant, and it may need to be replaced.
  • Leaking: Your condenser unit connects to your evaporator via copper tubing containing refrigerant. If refrigerant leaks anywhere in this line, it could mean a breakdown of your system. Signs of a leak can include a lack of cold air, hissing noises, or frost along the line.
  • Strange noises: Unusual noises coming from your condenser unit could signify problems or impending breakdown. Any loud grinding or rattling could mean parts are damaged or failing, and you may need to replace the unit.

Is it Worth Replacing an AC Condenser?

Homeowners may find it better to replace the AC condenser unit instead of the entire air conditioning system in a few situations. If the system is relatively new, then it likely has good energy efficiency, and the other portion of the system may last for a while longer. Yet, if the system is more than ten years old or has been giving you other problems, replacing the whole system with a newer, more efficient model that has a warranty may be the best option.

How Long Should a Condenser Last?

The lifespan of a condenser unit is roughly the same as your air conditioning unit. Most AC systems will last 15 to 20 years with regular maintenance, with an average of around 17 years before being replaced.

What Does it Cost to Replace a Condenser?

The cost to replace your condenser unit will depend on a few factors, such as the AC system’s capacity and the coil design, but on average, you can expect to pay in the range of $1,200 to $4,000.

Find Your Condenser Units or Parts At Superior Home Supplies

If the condenser unit of your cooling system is having problems, Superior Home Supplies has the parts you need to get it running again. Ready for a new AC condenser unit? Superior Home Supplies has the units you need to complete your system. Contact us today to find out more.






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