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What Could Go Wrong with Your AC’s Condenser

air-conditioning-tool-bagThe condenser, or condenser unit, is one of the vital parts of a home’s air conditioning system. When HVAC technicians refer to the condenser, they’re talking about the entire outdoor unit of a split system air conditioner, the type most people use for home comfort. The condenser houses the compressor, which places the refrigerant under pressure so it will circulate through the system, condenser coils where heat is released to the outdoors to cool down the refrigerant, and a blower fan to draw air across the condenser coils and then exhaust the heat out of the unit.

The condenser is therefore responsible for two crucial functions in the AC: to move refrigerant and to exhaust heat.

Trouble with the condenser

With so many important parts in one place, there are many things that might go wrong with a condenser—especially if it hasn’t been properly maintained over the years. Here are some of the more common troubles:

  • Leaking refrigerant: Leaks at connection points to the compressor and along the coils will allow refrigerant to escape. This will not only lower the AC’s heating capacity, it can cause catastrophic damage to the compressor.
  • Broken fan: If the fan motor in the condenser burns out, the unit will be unable to release heat effectively, trapping heat in the refrigerant and making it impossible to cool down the home.
  • Dirt on the condenser coil: Dust, dirt, and grime from outside the condenser unit may get inside and get all over the coil. This will restrict the coil’s ability to release heat and make the AC less energy efficient.
  • Failed capacitors: Capacitors are electrical components that send voltage to the motors that power the fan and the compressor. Extreme heat can cause capacitors to lose their ability to hold a charge, leading to the fan or compressor shutting off.
  • Burnt-out compressor: There are a number of reasons for a compressor to burn out. It might become grounded because of loose wires, it undergoes too much strain, or liquid refrigerant could flow the wrong direction into it (known as slugging). A broken compressor is a major problem, and in most cases it will need to be replaced.

Condenser unit replacement

A condenser unit will eventually need to be replaced when it wears down and repairs are no longer a cost-effective way to keep the unit going. Often it is part of a full air conditioning system replacement, with the indoor parts being replaced as well. Sometimes only a new condenser unit needs to be put in. But it’s very important that HVAC professionals handle this job. Not only is the work complex and requires specialized tools, but the new condenser must be matched to the indoor components of the AC. A mismatched system will be highly inefficient and may break down early.

We’re the Fresno, CA, HVAC contractor to handle the care or replacement of your air conditioning system’s condenser unit. We have more than 65 years of history in the area, and you can trust our technicians to figure out if your condenser needs repairs or if it’s time for a new one.

Purl’s Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning: Quality Is the Cornerstone of Our Success Since 1952!

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