Care Tips for Your Home AC's Condenser Unit

To keep your home's central AC unit operating at peak efficiency, you need to give it proper maintenance attention. A well-maintained AC unit will not only function energy efficiently, but it will also have a longer life and limit the need for costly repairs and premature replacements. Because your AC's condenser unit is usually located outside of the home, it is easy to ignore it as long as your AC system seems to be working okay. This is a mistake that can cause failure of your equipment at crucial times. With a little basic knowledge, any homeowner can take good care of their AC unit's outdoor unit.

While all outdoor units are not subjected to the same conditions, here is a general rundown of the dos and don'ts when it comes to maintenance of AC outdoor units.

Remove dirt buildup from your condenser coils.

Over time, your condenser coils are bound to get dirty. The coils have small delicate fins, which facilitate airflow. Any decrease in airflow through the fins will reduce system capacity and efficiency. You can clean dirty fins by spraying them with a gentle stream from a garden hose. Once you are done with the cleaning, you can use a straightening tool to straighten any bent fins. You should not use a pressure or power washer as the pressure of the stream can easily damage the fins. 

Do not let debris accumulate around the unit.

All manner of debris can accumulate around your condenser unit and restrict airflow, making it difficult for the system to work efficiently. If you have trees in your yard, dried leaves can fall and collect close to your AC unit's condenser unit. Use a lawn leaf rake to clear the leaves before they can cause serious operational inefficiencies. When you are mowing the lawn, equip your lawn mower with a grass catcher, so you can collect grass clippings that could have been thrown all over the place, including towards your outdoor unit. Or, direct the mowing equipment away from the unit.

Do not let plants grow too close to the unit.

Most people love to have greenery in their yard, but letting garden flowers, shrubs, and small trees to thrive near condenser units can lead to cooling inefficiency. Make sure the area around your outdoor unit is clear of any small plants that can obstruct airflow. 

Before undertaking any maintenance work on your AC unit, make sure to shut it down first. You should NEVER work on ANY appliance when the electricity is still turned on.