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Is your HVAC condenser unit performing as it should?

Our HVAC systems are a vital part of our homes. They help keep temperatures comfortable and stable throughout our homes. It’s only when they break down that we realize we’ve taken them for granted. This can be a scary time, not knowing what’s wrong or how to fix it.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Read on for these 5 warning signs you need to replace your HVAC condenser unit before it gives up on you for good.

What is a Condenser?

The condenser unit is an important part of your system. It’s in charge of refrigeration and sending hot air from your home’s interior outside. This unit will be outside, and here is the list of the basic functions it takes care of:

  • condensation
  • evaporation
  • compression

The condenser unit is where you’ll find condenser coils, compressor, fans, and refrigerant lines. The compressor raises the temperature of the refrigerant, using pressure (or compression). This makes it easier for the heat to transfer.

When the refrigerant leaves the compressor, it moves through the condenser coils. During this time, the fan cools these coils down, releasing the heat outside.

The refrigerant lines are the part that makes this whole cycle possible. They’re the parts that connect your inside and outside unit together. The refrigerant can then cycle through and the cooling process can extract the heat.

Condenser units usually go forgotten and ignored, but you shouldn’t neglect it. If your condenser breaks, then the rest of your HVAC unit cannot function as it should.

Warning Signs

Now you know what your condenser does and how important it is, let’s look at signs you need to look for.

1. Reduced Airflow

Another more nuanced symptom of imminent compressor failure is a reduction in airflow. It’s subtle and may be easy to ignore if you don’t know what it could be hinting at.

But even if it’s easy to ignore, don’t. A small, subtle symptom could shut your unit down as much as a huge issue could. Diminished airflow from your HVAC vents is one of the hardest signs to spot. But it’s also one of the first ways your compressor will tell you something is wrong.

If your compressor has an issue and starts to struggle, it won’t be able to generate as much air as usual. As a result, you’ll get less air coming from the vents.

As soon as you notice this, you need to call in a trained professional. They’re best placed to diagnose and fix the issues, as it could be a clog in your ductwork as well.

2. There Isn’t Enough Cooling or it’s Blowing Hot Air

You might turn your HVAC system and notice there it’s not cooling the air. Or, it’s blowing out hot air instead. This may hint at an issue with your condenser unit. Or to be more specific, the condenser coils. These coils, that move the refrigerant through to remove heat, can get dirty or blocked.

If this happens, your unit can still run, but the air won’t cool down. If your coils aren’t working, you could see the cooling efficiency of your unit reduced by 30%. But you should note that low refrigerant levels can also cause inefficient cooling.

If you know this isn’t the case, then you should call in a trained technician to check for condenser issues. And going forward, you should make sure you keep them clean and debris free to prevent further damage.

3. Reductions in Energy Efficiency

You might notice that your HVAC unit isn’t working at high efficiency anymore. This could be an issue with your condenser. It’s responsible for the cooling function of an HVAC unit. If your condenser sustains damage or gets blocked, then your unit won’t cool the air as well as it has been. To get the same cooling results as before, your unit will need to work harder and use more energy.

Look for unexpected, unexplained increases in your energy usage. If you notice this, but the cooling level seems the same or even decreases you may have an issue. Over time, if left untreated, it can cause more damage to your unit as well as more energy bill rises.

4. You Spot Leaks

This might be a bit of a tricky one, as it can be quite difficult to see leaks. But you should check as much as you can. Leaks from the condenser or the coils can cause issues for your whole unit. If your coils have a leak, the refrigerant that flows through them will escape.

Even the slightest debris, dirt, or damage can cause a leak. Over time, if left unchecked, it can cause the entire unit to break down. Leaks will lower the level of refrigerant your unit has. This reduces your unit’s cooling abilities. If you see your refrigerant levels going down when it shouldn’t, you might have a leak. Make sure to get an HVAC technician to investigate immediately.

5. Condenser is Overgrown

As your condenser is outside, it’s easy for the outside to try to take it over. It’s usually found on the ground, near your home’s foundation. To work at it’s best, it’s recommended that at least 2 feet of space on all sides remain clear.

Given it’s location, it isn’t surprising that it can clog up and get dirty. Debris and clutter can build up and block it as the outside components tend to attract dirt.

Brush, grass, and any surrounding vegetation can start to overgrow into the system. Combined, this can all work to reduce efficiency, or stop your unit altogether.

If you notice that your condenser is overgrown, be careful and remove this vegetation. Also, clear away any built-up debris and dirt. If you can’t get into the condenser or you’re worried about doing it, then call in the professionals. They’ll be able to sort it out for you.

HVAC Condenser Unit Problems

Your HVAC condenser unit is an integral part of your HVAC system and can be exposed to heavy wear, so problems are not uncommon. But by catching issues early, you can fix problems before they become larger, more expensive issues.

If you notice any of these signs in your condenser, contact us today at Schneider Mechanical. Whether you need preventative maintenance or emergency HVAC repair, we are available for a free consultation 24/7 at 512-695-4323.