Where to start?! There are many reasons why you check you’re A/C system out every year. The first one that comes to mind is money. By not checking your unit every year, you could be unknowingly costing yourself a lot of money. You see, during the winter months a condenser to you is a luxury condo for a rodent! Look at the picture above of a unit I opened up and found this. Now picture yourself as a mouse or chipmunk. To them, this looks like a spacious loft with plenty of room for a king-size nest, large storage area, and don’t forget those beautiful multi-colored teeth sharpening wires!
This is one of the most common “condenser killers” that I have come across. You think everything is fine, that first hot day finally arrives and you fire up that A/C and expect to be cool and comfortable in no time. Instead, you end up sweating and broke! Once you send 240 volts to the chewed-up wiring and it touches the ground, POOF! There goes the A/C unit. Every spring I recommend turning off the breaker to the air conditioning system and taking the doors off and taking a peek “under the hood”. Look to see if there is a nest and clear it out if there is. An old paintbrush works great for this and for clearing spider webs. Check all the wiring to make sure it is all intact and not chewed or worn as shown in the photo above
Check all the connections to make sure that they aren’t loose or falling off. Look for rust on any of the components like the capacitor. If there is, don’t risk it, just replace it. Capacitors are relatively cheap and easy to change. We sell them right here at Fixmyfurnace.com! (I go into more details on capacitors in another “DIY DIARY”) Just be sure to get the right size dual capacitor! It will say on the label or we can look it up for you by model and the serial number of the condenser. (photo of the capacitor being tested above)
The next thing that you can do is give the outside of the condenser a good spray with the hose to clean off any debris on the coil and make sure it is nice and clean. This will help the unit transfer heat and increase efficiency. I see way too many units with completely clogged coils and high electric bills as a result! I spray my unit off with the hose every time I mow the grass as a force of habit. The cleaner the coil, the better. DON’T EVER USE A PRESSURE WASHER!!! You will blow a hole right through the coil or bend the fins in and ruin the condenser coil. Also, be careful not to bury your condenser when you add a fresh layer of mulch around your home. I see this all the time as well. It will kill its efficiency and rot the coil. The picture above is of the unit that the customer did just that. They had complaints of the unit not cooling as well as it had in the past. I took the side access panel off and saw years of mulch stuffed inside the condenser. Once I cleared out all the mulch and rinsed the coils with water, the unit was back to peak performance and once again cooling the home as it should.