AC Condenser Coil Essential Guide & FAQ

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How often should the condenser coils in my AC unit be cleaned? How can I know if my condenser coils are beyond repair? These are all questions that users will have about this vital component of the AC unit. If you have questions, we hope you will find answers in this blog post.

What is the condenser coil in an air conditioner?

The condenser coils in your AC unit are the component that transfers heat from one medium to another. In the air conditioner, the condenser coils are part of the system that collects heat passing through the system and delivers it to the exterior vents.

While they work together, the function of the condenser coils is very different from the evaporator coils, which perform a similar function within the space being cooled. The condenser coils are located outside.

Related Read: Overview of AC Parts

Where is the AC condenser coil located?

If you examine the exterior portion of your air conditioner, you will notice a covering of thin wires in front of the condenser fins; the condenser coils are located just behind these fins. In an outdoor AC unit, these coils will wrap around the interior coils, and in an internal unit, these coils act as sidewalls.

The condenser coils are often completely exposed, except for the presence of the wire coil guards. At other times they may be less protected and shielded by panels with louvers. In other models, the outer casing may need to be removed before the condenser coils can be accessed.

The Function of AC Condenser Coils

Condenser coils are typically made of copper and act as the container for the refrigerant liquids. As the pressure on the gas within is increased, the refrigerant gas is condensed into liquid form. This change in states results in the refrigerant liquid releasing its stored heat, which is transferred into the outside atmosphere. Then the liquid can be passed back into the interior of the AC unit, where the cycle can begin again.

How do I know if my condenser coil is bad?

Blows Hot Air or Cools Insufficiently

One problem that could be traced to the condenser coil is when the air moving through the air conditioner is not cooled properly. The task of the refrigerant in the condenser coil is to absorb the heat from inside and release this heat outside. If the coils get dirty, the air conditioner unit will not be functioning correctly. This can happen when the coils become clogged or dirty.

When condenser coils malfunction, the efficacy of the air conditioner can be reduced considerably. One reason could be a reduction of refrigerant gasses. If you are sure the level of refrigerant gasses in your unit is correct, then the problem is the condenser itself. One way to avoid damage to the condenser coils is by keeping them clean and free from debris.

Refrigerant Leaks

There can be other problems with your entire system caused by leaks in the condenser and its coils, but these issues often can be harder to locate. Coils work by moving the refrigerant liquid through them, which is disrupted by leaks caused by damage and dirt or corrosion. If not caught in time, this can lead to the entire AC unit being compromised. Leaks in the condenser can lead to a drop in refrigerant level, which can reduce your air conditioner’s capacity to run properly. If you suspect the refrigerant levels in your condenser are dropping, you should have your Air Conditioner investigated for potential leaks.

What happens if the AC condenser is dirty?

Higher bills for electricity

When the function of your condenser coils has been compromised by the presence of shrubs, grass, and other obstructions, they will not be able to remove the heat from the outside properly. This means that your air conditioner will have to work harder to perform its proper function. According to a study made by Pacific Gas & Electric, dirty condenser coils can reduce the cooling capacity of your air conditioner by as much as 30%.

Greater chances of an early breakdown

A dirty condenser will cause your air conditioner to work harder for longer, and this strain can significantly reduce its longevity.

Increase in operating temperatures

When the system at work in your air conditioner is affected by dirty or compressor coils, fans and compressors will have to work harder. This can also increase the operating temperatures to reach the desired temperatures within the room.

Reduction in comfort

As a natural part of cooling the air inside, an AC unit will also remove much of the moisture in the air, which can cause discomfort. If dirty coils compromise the effectiveness of the AC, this function will also be impacted.

Decrease in cooling efficiency

The air conditioner will not properly handle the cooling of the air if it is not working efficiently due to the buildup of dirt and debris across the surface of the coils.

Repairs and replacement

When the AC’s function is impaired because the components have become stressed due to an over-stressed compressor, you will probably have to call in a service provider and have these components replaced. In an extreme case, you may be forced to change the entire system.

Should you clean the condenser coil?

It is highly recommended that you have your condenser coils cleaned regularly. Very little between the coil fins and a buildup of dirt and debris will cause them to function poorly. As time goes by, more pollutants will be added to this problem, which can greatly reduce the capacity of your condenser coils to function properly; this type of issue is especially prevalent in the summer. In some of the more extreme cases, the condenser coils can be blocked entirely off, causing them to stop functioning altogether.

The result will be an air conditioner that is not functioning well and causing higher energy bills. The dirty coils will reduce the efficiency of the air conditioner’s functions, and in addition to the increased energy cost, you will have to pay for maintenance and services or a complete replacement if the situation has become too advanced to be rectified.

How should I Clean Your Air Conditioner Condenser Coil?

  1. Remove all the leaves and debris from the condenser unit
  2. You could use a water hose with a very gentle pressure to clear away dirt and debris. There are also condenser coil cleaners that can be applied to this.
  3. Ensure that all shrubbery has been cleared away for at least three feet around the outdoor unit and that all shrubs that are nearer have been cut down.

Is water enough to clean the condenser coil?

You can use conventional condenser cleaners to clean the condenser coils. But if you don’t have access to these, you can create a solution of mild detergents and water.

Apply the cleaning solution to the coils with a sprayer with a very low pressure too. After it has done its work, rinse it away with a low-pressure stream of water from a garden hose.

  1. Make sure the sprayer and solution are slightly warm for best results.
  2. Apply the solution directly to the coils.
  3. Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes to ensure that it is doing a good job.
  4. Wipe away all the loose debris with a soft cloth and apply no pressure while doing so.

How much does it cost to clean condenser coils?

Suppose you would rather not handle this project yourself or would simply like to preserve the longevity of your AC unit with professional attention. In that case, a condenser cleaning service will cost around $80 to $120. Specialist cleaners will know how to handle this task safely and effectively, and we recommend this course of action for anyone wishing to preserve their AC systems.


We hope that this comprehensive guide to condenser coil cleaning has answered all your questions about caring for your air conditioner unit. If you have any further questions or would like to know more about keeping your air conditioners in optimal conditions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will answer all your questions and provide you with a free quote on all of our services.

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