Has your central air conditioner recently become less efficient or stopped working altogether with no clear cause? The problem could lie in a set of coils inside the condensing unit outside your home. Those coils play an early but vital role in the cooling process.
The condensing coils are designed to take in gas refrigerant pumped out by the compressor and transform that refrigerant into a liquid. The liquid travels through tubes in your walls to go inside your home's air handler and the evaporator coils found there. The evaporator coils change the refrigerant back into a gas, which causes the coils to become cold. A fan blows your home's air over those cold coils, and that's how your air gets cooled.
A problem in the condensing coils can keep the evaporator coils from becoming cold or cold enough. There are a few common problems that can strike the condenser coils.
Dirty Condenser Coils
The condensing unit cover is grated for ventilation and there's a fan inside to help keep the system cool. It's not hard for dirt to blow into the system and to stick onto the surface of the condenser coils. Small leaves and branches might also get into the system and stuck on the coils. Dirty condenser coils can't efficiently or effectively transform the refrigerant into a gas, which means the whole system is going to suffer.
You can clean the condenser coils by cutting all power to your condensing unit and removing the access panel cover above the coils. Remove any large debris manually, and you can then brush away any dirt on the surface using a stiff brush. Try to avoid using water, if possible, since water or cleaner dripping down into the bottom of the condensing unit can cause damage to other parts.
Bent or Broken Condenser Coils
When you open your condensing unit to check on the coils, look to see that there aren't any warped, broken, or bent areas on the coils. This can also include punctures or spots where the coils have broken open. If there's damage of this nature, leave your air conditioning power off and call in a service tech like those represented at http://www.aabsoluteplumbing.com.
Broken coils can cause the condensing unit to dangerously overheat and can also leak chemical refrigerant down onto other parts. Running the unit with damaged coils can cause a lot more damage, so call in a air conditioning repair service as soon as you spot the problem.
Overheating Condenser Coils
Is your condensing unit turning on then turning off again too quickly to cool the air in your home? This is a process called rapid cycling and can happen if the system overheats and shuts down in self-defense. The overheating can be due to the condenser coils becoming too hot during the refrigerant change.
Coils can become too hot due to the fan not working properly. Turn on your unit and see if the fan fires up normally during the short time the unit operates. If it doesn't, you need to call in an air conditioner repair service to replace the fan or possibly the fan and fan motor.
If you do have proper fan function, the problem might be in your refrigerant. Different refrigerant problems can cause coil overheating including improper levels, refrigerant in need of charging, and even the improper refrigerant being used in a system. A service tech will need to check and fix the refrigerant issue since it is a regulated chemical.