AC Condenser Coil 101

Posted on: 14 January 2021

The AC condenser coils are located on the exterior unit. They resemble vents on one or more sides of the unit. They serve an important purpose and therefore require proper maintenance. 


The condenser coils on your AC are a necessary part when it comes to the proper functioning of the unit. The coils perform the necessary task of heat exchange—they move hot air out of the unit so that cool air can condense inside and be further cooled for circulation throughout the home. This is why the coils are on the exterior unit, where the heat output will not raise the temperature inside your home. 


The main issue that affects the coils is dirt. Dirt reduces the amount of heat exchange that occurs, which puts stress on the AC as it struggles to cool your home to the desired temperature. Dirt is a natural result of the unit having to be outdoors, which is why the unit will need to be regularly maintained in order to guard against dirty coils causing AC issues. 

The other issue that affects the coils is damage. The delicate condenser fins can be bent or warped, either from improper cleaning, weathering problems like hail damage, or trauma such as from lawn maintenance near the unit. Bent coils cannot exchange heat properly, which causes similar issues like those caused by dirty coils. 


Regular cleaning is a must for the coils. You can help keep the coils dust-free by periodically hosing down the external AC unit, such as when watering your yard or right after mowing the lawn. If there is stubborn dirt that will not easily wash off, more in-depth cleaning is needed. There are foaming AC coil cleaners available that work well without causing damage. You simply spray the cleaner on, wait the prescribed time, then carefully scrub the coils with a soft brush. Care must be taken not to bend the coils or cut yourself on their sharp edges. 

The other necessary maintenance task is straightening any coils that become bent. Fin combs are special tools that can be used to straighten out the combs if bends or warps occur. Depending on your weather and the exposure of your AC, you may need to comb the fins annually at the start of the cooling season. 

Contact an air conditioning service in your area for more assistance with condenser coil maintenance and repair.