Condenser coils are key to the functioning of your central air conditioning system. However, many homeowners do not know what the coils do or where they are even located. The coils are highly visible and easy to find. They are the aluminum ridges that line the outside of your exterior unit. In fact, the unit on the exterior of your home that is often referred to as "the air conditioner" is actually a condenser unit, which is just one part of the the central air conditioning system on most buildings. So, when you clean your air conditioner, you are really improving the functionality of the condenser elements.
How to Clean the Condenser
The condenser unit is made up of three basic parts: the fan, the coils and the aluminum fins. The fins and the coils are attached and often get misnamed. The coils are copper and are on the inside of the aluminum fins, so they are not usually visible. So, you are really just cleaning the fins, but it will improve the operation of the coils. The fins are responsible for filtering the air that the coils absorb and converting it into cold air. That is an oversimplification of the process, but that is basically how it works.
The first step is to unplug the unit or cut the power completely at the breaker box. Then, clean the condenser, or fins, with cleaning solution. You can get condenser cleaning solutions from a home improvement or appliance store. It will come in a spray bottle for easy application. Read the direction to see how long you should let the cleaner sit before it cleaning it off. For a better clean, let the solution sit for a few extra minutes, then thoroughly spray it off with your hose.
Clean out the Fan Compartment
Another vital element to a condenser unit is the fan. The fan is open to the elements, so leaves, dirt, dust, insect and rodents can easily get into the fan compartment. If the compartment is dirty, especially near the output vent, it can definitely decrease airflow into the ducts. All you need to do is vacuum out the compartment with a high powered hose vacuum.
You can probably go outside right now and easily start to clean your condenser unit. Even if you don't have any cleaning solution on hand, you can try to spray out the fins with a powerful hose. However, if your unit starts acting up, you may want to call in a professional for help. This might also be a great time to make sure your appliances are up to snuff as well; consider calling an appliance service specialist, such as J & M Appliance, for a quick checkup.