Stay Comfy Blog

AC Issues: Why Should I Care About Dirty Condenser Coils?

condenser coilIn the heat of summer, the one thing most of us look forward to is the relief we feel when we come home to a well-cooled house. It’s a sense of instant relaxation from the day’s busyness and respite from the outdoor temps. But all that can fail if our AC isn’t working efficiently as the result of a dirty condenser coil. So, it’s important to know what your condenser coil is, what happens when it gets dirty, and what you can do about it.

What are Condenser Coils?

Your air conditioning system is made up of two types of coils (in addition to other components): evaporator coils and condenser coils. The evaporator coil is the “indoor coil,” and usually is located indoors on top of your furnace.

The condenser coil is your unit’s outside counterpart to the evaporator coil (it's located outside, on the condensing unit). It’s sometimes referred to as the “warm” coil, as it repels outdoor heat that’s blown over it. Both coils are typically made of copper with aluminum “fins.” Both can accumulate dust and debris over time. But the condenser coil, being outdoors and not protected by a filter, can also accumulate leaves, grass clippings, pet hair, and other outdoor contaminants.

What Happens When the Coil Gets Dirty?

When the condenser coil gets dirty, it inhibits heat transfer, which is critical to efficient cooling. It causes the compressor to work harder, increasing the unit's overall working temperature, and over time, shortening its life. The coils need to stay free and clear of debris in order to allow the appropriate airflow throughout the whole system.

What are the Effects of a Dirty Coil?

The first effect of a dirty condenser coil is a significant reduction in the efficiency of your AC. It can feel like your AC isn’t cooling as you’d like it to, or it takes longer to cool your home. You may also notice that your home feels more humid. That’s because your AC is working harder and can’t keep up with the moisture in the air. In really severe cases, you may even feel your AC blowing hot air. If that happens, it’s best to turn it off and call a professional. But you don’t have to wait for disaster to strike. There’s one easy step you can take to keep your condenser coil clean and your system running at top efficiency.

How to Avoid a Dirty Coil?

The best thing you can do to keep your AC working at its best is to have an annual inspection and cleaning. Not only will this address the coil — cleaning it as needed — but it will also ensure that the other parts of your system are in tip-top shape. An HVAC professional will inspect all the components of your system including the motor, fan, coils, and refrigerant levels. If anything needs repair or replacement, you can get the job done early when it’s least expensive — and when it won’t interrupt keeping your home comfortably cool on the hottest days of the year.

It pays to work with a trusted HVAC professional, too. Check out our convenient dealer locator to find a reliable HVAC pro near you.

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