Condenser Maintenance Checklist: 4 Ways to Prevent Condenser Problems This Summer

blog-icon-hvacYour condenser is a key player in keeping your home cool. It may sit outside the house, an isolated box in the back or side yard, and you may not think about it much. But it’s working hard for you every day you use your AC, and it deserves a little TLC from time to time. We had a post last winter about condensers sitting outside in the bad weather for months at a time, and it makes sense that the rainy months are the hardest on outdoor AC units. But summer can also be hard on equipment: between the spring sludge, the sun beating down, and the fact that the condenser is running a lot more often, we see a lot of condensers go bad starting this time of year. To combat this, we’re offering our four best tips for keeping your condenser in tip-top shape

Tip #1: Keep Your Condenser Clean

Your condenser has been outside all winter and spring, which means that it’s been exposed to mud, water, dust, grit, leaves, and more. And the odds are pretty good that some of that stuff has entered your condenser, sunk to the bottom, and formed a thick sludge that’s just waiting to gum up the works and eat away at important components. Before running your AC full blast, make sure your condenser has been properly cleaned. Many DIY folks will clean their own condenser, but we recommend leaving it to the pros (at Bell Brothers, all of our AC tune-ups include a condenser cleaning).

Tip #2: Get a Condenser Cover

We’ve been preaching the gospel of KoolKap Condenser Covers for years now, and that’s because they work. They’re light, easy to install, very affordable, and can be left on the unit year-round. Most importantly, they do a great job of keeping the nasty sludge out of your unit in the first place.

Tip #3: Beware of Dog Urine

Many homeowners have a condenser, and many homeowners have dogs. And almost all of the homeowners who have both a condenser and dogs keep them in the same place at least part of the summer: the back yard. That can be a problem, though, because dog urine is bad for your condenser. If you let your dog use your condenser as a relief station (and believe us, they will), you’re going to need a new condenser soon. To prevent dogs from getting to their condenser, we’ve seen customers train their dog to only go in one place or build a fence around the unit. Keep in mind that following tip #2 to get a condenser cover will not fix this issue alone.

Tip #4: Do a Little Topiary

It doesn’t have to be ornate enough for the Royal Gardens, but a little vegetation trimming will go a long way towards keeping your condenser in good shape. (But you don’t want anything growing on the condenser itself, so keep those Virginia Creepers away.) Actually, we recommend a few feet of space on all sides of the outdoor unit — including above it — for better ventilation and to decrease the risk of debris finding its way inside.

Bonus Tip: Know When It’s the End

Sometimes, the bottom line is that there’s only so much you can do to save a condenser that’s old or broken. It’s hard news to break to a homeowner, especially since many are wary of HVAC contractors trying to sell them on a new unit they don’t need. That’s why we try not to pull the plug on any system unless we absolutely have to.

If you find yourself in this position, here are a few things that can help:

1. Even if you need AC right away but can’t afford an installation, there are numerous rebates and government loans to help you pay for a new installation.

2. If you do have to replace your AC, here’s some good news: any system you install now will work much better than the previous one (especially if your old one was over a decade old).

3. With a little preventative maintenance like we’ve discussed here, any new AC system should last 15 – 20 years and perform very well throughout that entire time.

So whether you need a little TLC, a big repair, or a condenser replacement, you know who to call — the “No Surprise” Guys.