Central Air Conditioning: Clean Outside Condenser Unit


Central Air Conditioning is a cooling system that circulates cool air to all or most of your home through ductwork which can be inside your walls, floors or ceilings. The registers where the cool air comes out can be mounted on your walls, floors or ceilings.

Central Air Conditioning has relatively expensive components (outside condenser unit, and inside blower and motor unit) and uses a significant amount of energy to operate. Your air conditioning unit actually performs three functions: cooling, dehumidifying, and filtering out particulates from the air. Your central air conditioning ductwork may be integrated as part of your home HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) system.

Central Air Conditioning is different than a ‘Room Air Conditioner,’ which typically mounts in a window or on the floor, and does not have distribution ductwork.

If you have Central Air Conditioning, you may also have related home features such as: a Whole-House Humidifier; a Heat Pump (traditional); a Geothermal Heat Pump; Electronic Air Cleaner; Fresh Air Heat Exchanger; or Forced Air Heat which uses the same ductwork as your Central Air Conditioning. If you have any of these, you should put a checkmark for them as home features in your Home Wizard app, in addition to Central Air Conditioning.

Proper maintenance will help reduce unscheduled repairs to your home air conditioning system.

Routine Care

Clean outside condenser unit

The purpose of this maintenance task is to help maintain the energy efficiency of the condenser unit.

A dirty unit is less efficient at doing its job, which means that your air conditioning unit has to work harder, which causes it to consume more energy, and shortens its service life.

Timing: April (yearly)

How To

The “outside condenser unit” is the big box with the large fan in it located on the side of your house or building. This unit is where heat from the inside of your house is pushed to the outside (which is why the fan blowing air above the unit feels warm). Inside of the box are coils of pipe that are surrounded by thousands of thin metal “fins”. These fins give the coils more surface area for exchanging heat.

Cleaning the outside condenser unit involves four activities. Before doing any of these activities, be absolutely sure to shut off power to the unit and consult your owner’s manual regarding discharging the capacitor and proper maintenance procedures for your unit. If you have any questions about how to do this, seek professional maintenance help.

Remove leaves, debris, spider webs, etc. from the outside of the unit. Be careful to push debris away from the fins, not pushing debris into the fins.

Remove leaves, debris, etc. from the inside of the unit (after ensuring that power is shut off to the unit). After you remove the cover grille, you can use a garden hose to spray the coils from the inside of the unit.

If any of the fins are bent, you can use a special tool called a “fin comb” to straighten and clean them.

The motor which drives the fan typically has ports which allow lubricating oil to be added (check your owner’s manual).


The benefits of this task can be somewhat high because this task helps ensure the energy efficient operation of your air conditioning unit, and it helps maintain the useful life of a relatively expensive piece of equipment in your home.


The cost of this task is moderately high. Cleaning the outside of the unit only takes a few minutes. But cleaning inside the unit and oiling the motor is much more difficult, and straightening the fins requires a special tool. This part of the task is probably best left to a trained professional, as part of your annual service work.


Originally posted at http://www.petermuehlbronner.home-wizard.com/central-air-conditioning/care/central-ac-clean-condenser-unit

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