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Why a Dirty Outdoor AC Coil Is a Problem

We’ve recently written about some of the more common issues that an air conditioner may face as the end of summer approaches. All the stress of the previous months of outdoor heat can add up to a malfunctioning cooling system—even if the system received professional maintenance. We’re going to take a closer look at one of these late-summer problems in this post: the dirty outdoor condenser coil.

The condenser coil’s job

What does the condenser coil actually do for your air conditioner? It’s the place where heat from the system is exhausted to the outdoors. The refrigerant in an AC first leaves the compressor as a hot, high-pressure gas. As this gas moves through the outdoor coil, it loses heat through condensation as it comes into contact with the outdoor air (which may be warm, but is still much cooler than the refrigerant gas). The cooled gas then moves to the indoor unit, losing more heat and pressure so it cools down to the point where it can absorb heat from the indoors, after which it returns to the compressor and restarts the cycle.

The condenser coil’s dilemma when it’s dirty

Because the condenser coil is located in the outside cabinet, it can collect dust, dirt, grass, mulch, etc. This layer of grime insulates the coil from the outside air, making it harder for condensation to take place. The refrigerant loses less heat, and this will impair the entire balance of the heat exchange cycle. The AC will run hotter and be less effective at drawing heat from the indoor air. The air conditioner may even start to trip the circuit breaker—a major sign that something is wrong.

Don’t try to clean the coil on your own

You must have professionals to clean the coil. The job requires using special chemical foam that will remove the grime from the aluminum surface of the coil without damaging it.

Call on the HVAC repair specialists at Malek Heating & Cooling if you think your AC’s coil needs cleaning. We service Wilmette, IL and the rest of Chicagoland.

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