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Why You Should Pay Close Attention to Your Outdoor Unit

Your air conditioner consists of two different parts: your indoor unit, known as your evaporator, and your outdoor unit, often called your condenser. While most of your air conditioner’s critical components are found in the indoor unit, your outdoor unit contains several pieces that are vital to the cooling cycle, including your compressor and the compressor coil. For this reason, you actually can learn quite a bit about what’s causing your air conditioner to struggle and break down.

Here are three things you can see with your outdoor unit that may indicate something is wrong with your system, and what you can do to fix them.

Damaged Fins

If you look closely at the sides of your outdoor unit, it’s actually made up of a bunch of small, thin metal fins, usually protected by a harder metal cage. These fins serve an extremely important purpose: to dispel heat. When the refrigerant comes out of your compressor, it gets extraordinarily hot, and that hot liquid is sent through your condenser coil. That coil runs through the inside of your outdoor unit. The giant fan in the outdoor unit pulls air through the fins, which cools the air, much like your radiator does in your car. This cooler air then absorbs the heat from your condenser coil before it’s sent back into the atmosphere by the high-power fan. The cooled refrigerant then gets passed to your indoor unit, where it decompresses, becomes cold, and cools the air in your home.

However, if these finds are damaged, they can’t work as well. Not only does your system lose the ability to dispel heat, but damaged fins may prevent air from being able to enter your system entirely. They are made of metal, after all. Keep an eye on your outdoor unit and look for possible damage to the fins. If they are bent out of shape, they can be straightened fairly easy with a device known as a fin comb.

Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant leaks aren’t all massive enough to cause your entire system to lose pressure in a hurry. In fact, the overwhelming majority of coolant leaks are pinhole-sized, and the drips that come out take quite some time. However, they do occur most commonly in the outdoor section of your cycle, or around your condenser. This is because the copper or metal piping in this area is most prone to corrosion since it’s not protected from moisture and the other elements that it’s exposed to.

If you keep a close eye on your outdoor unit and notice a very small, slow drip coming from your copper refrigerant lines, there’s a strong chance that’s not water condensation—that’s refrigerant. The fluid in your line at that point isn’t cold—it’s extremely hot, so condensation shouldn’t be happening. If you notice it’s a strange color or has a strange odor, shut your system off and call for a repair right away.

Dirty Coil

Finally, you’ll be able to spot the factors that can contribute to a dirty air conditioning coil. Your air conditioner has two coils, which it depends on for the heat transfer process. Inside, the warmer indoor air is run over the evaporator coil, where heat is absorbed and cool air is created, keeping you comfortable. Outside, the heat from inside the coil is dispelled into the atmosphere. However, this can only be done with the utmost efficiency if the coils are clean. Even a thin layer of dust acts like a blanket, which insulates the coil, preventing the much-wanted heat transfer.

What usually causes this? Dust, dirt, leaves, grass, plants, and other debris finding its way into your indoor unit. Keep an eye on your outdoor unit and keep all plants and grass trimmed away to a radius of at least three feet. This should give your system plenty of room to breathe without picking up that dust or other debris. Likewise, sweep or rake the area surrounding it to remove any debris which may have accumulated and you’ll experience a more efficient system.

If your air conditioner has broken down, or you simply need a tune-up service, call Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC at (888) 660-4337 today to request an appointment with our Palm Beach County air conditioning experts.
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