3 Visual Indicators Of A Condenser Problem

Posted on: 22 August 2022

Discovering the underlying cause of many HVAC issues requires careful inspection and skilled techniques. However, there are some signs of trouble that any homeowner can potentially notice. By learning how to spot these issues, you can often discover a problem with your air conditioning system before something much more expensive breaks.

Your air conditioning system's condenser is the large outdoor unit, and it's arguably the most visible part of any central AC system. While many homeowners many do what they can to minimize the appearance of these units, being able to see and inspect your condenser is often useful. Next time you're outside, look at that big box and see if you can spot any of these three troubling signs.

1. Unbalanced or Stopped Fan

The large fan on top is one of the most prominent features of your condenser. It's one of two components that must operate any time your air conditioner runs. The first component, the compressor, moves refrigerant through the system. This refrigerant is very hot when it arrives at the condenser, and the condenser fan helps the coils release that heat into the environment.

As a result, the condenser fan must run whenever the compressor is on. Not only will a faulty fan reduce your AC's efficiency, but it can also overheat and damage the compressor. If you can hear your compressor running, but the fan is stopped, struggling, or unbalanced, it's time to call a professional for a service visit.

2. Moldy or Dirty Coils

Your condenser coils work with the condenser fan to release heat from your home into the outdoors. The more dirt and debris on the coils, the less efficiently they will operate. You can clean the coils with a little water (use only a regular, low-pressure garden hose!), but significant amounts of dirt or mold are usually hard to remove with do-it-yourself methods.

Avoid using harsh cleaners and never use a pressure washer. If you can't get the coils clean with a garden hose, call in a professional for a service visit. Trained HVAC technicians know how to use foaming cleaners and other tools safely to avoid damaging your condenser or coils. This simple service visit can potentially greatly improve your system's performance and efficiency.

3. Crumbling Insulation or Wires

If you look closely, you should see a bundle of cables and some plumbing running from your condenser into the side of your home. This bundle carries power and refrigerant, and it's critical to keep it protected. The return line on the refrigerant line set should have insulation to keep the refrigerant cool, while the wiring usually has standard outdoor insulating sheaths.

Any signs of crumbling or decay, either on the insulation or the wiring, can be an issue. While decaying line set insulation can impact system efficiency, crumbling wiring insulation can create a short or provide an opportunity for rodents to chew into the lines. If you notice these problems, you'll want a technician to take a look as soon as possible.

Reach out to an AC services contractor to learn more.