Your central air conditioner's cooling process starts inside the condensing unit located on a concrete slab outside your home. The condensing unit contains an outdoor coil that takes in gas refrigerant and changes that gas to a liquid. Part problems that interfere with this process can thwart your unit's cooling efficiency.
What are a few outdoor coil problems that can thwart efficiency – and how can an air conditioning service company help?
Dirty Outdoor Coil
A condensing unit has grates to allow outside air to pass through the system to help the blower fan keep the parts from overheating during operation. That outside air carries dirt and particulates that can become stuck to the surface of the outdoor coil.
A dirty coil won't have the careful calibration required to complete the phase change from gas refrigerant to liquid refrigerant. The phase change issues can result in the coils becoming overheated, which will trigger a safety system in the unit and turn off the power supply.
An outdoor coil isn't as easy to clean as its indoor counterpart because the condensing unit has several parts you don't want to douse with water. The condensing unit also lacks a drain pan that could catch a no-rinse coil cleanser as it fell from the coil.
If you do want to try and clean the outside coil yourself, you should use a hose pointed at the coils from inside the condensing unit. But it is better to leave the coil cleaning in the hands of an air conditioning services professional.
Bent or Broken Outdoor Coil
Bends or breaks in the outdoor coil can thwart the phase change process and cause gas refrigerant to leak out of the system. The loss of the refrigerant will impact the ability of both the outdoor and indoor coils to pass the refrigerant through the system properly. You will soon have no working air conditioning at all as the fuel source continues to run out.
You can conduct a visual check of the outdoor coil by turning off the power and taking a look through the access panel. But you should leave any coil replacement to an HVAC professional. Even if the coil looks undamaged, ask a trained professional to take a look as the cracks or bends could be so small it's hard to notice the problem with your naked eye.
You will need to have a tech present, anyway, if your system proves to have a low refrigerant level due to any cause. The refrigerant is a controlled chemical only obtainable by licensed professionals so you really do need to leave this type of work up to the pros.