The Importance of Keeping Your Outdoor Unit Clean

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Southerners are no stranger to how brutal summer can get. High temperatures, sweltering humidity, and long hours of sunlight make air conditioning necessary in the modern home. Business owners know they need to control the temperature of their environment so their employees are productive and customers are comfortable when they come to visit.

And likewise, every southerner knows that when your air conditioner gives out on you, it’s a frustrating experience, to say the least. Trying to deal with the heat and humidity of summer without a working air conditioner can be downright brutal—affecting everything from your happiness at home to the morale of your employees.

Your air conditioner is a mechanical system, and that means that it will break down eventually by nature. No mechanical system lasts forever—wear and tear on parts, continual exposure to the elements, and the simple passing of time will eventually cause things to fail and the system to stop working. However, if you want to prolong the life of your air conditioner, routine maintenance services will do exactly that. Routine maintenance includes several different tasks, one of which is keeping your outdoor unit clean. In this blog, we’ll discuss why this is so important and what you can do to help keep it clean and working properly!

Your Condenser Coil

Every air conditioning system has two coils that facilitate the heat transfer that makes your system work. Your indoor coil is known as your evaporator coil and your outdoor coil is known as your condenser coil. The main job of your coils is to transfer heat—either absorbing it from inside your home or expelling it outside where you don’t want it. This is why coils are long lengths of metal tubes bent into a pattern that maximizes the amount of distance which refrigerant in the tube must pass through. The more surface area of tubing that’s exposed to the air that is going to be conditioned, the better your system, the more heat transfers between the air around the coil and the refrigerant in the coil itself, which makes your HVAC system work.

When your air conditioner is turned on, your evaporator coil absorbs heat from inside your home which is then expelled outside through your condenser coil. The cooled refrigerant then flows back into your home, where it absorbs more heat and the process starts over again. If you have a heat pump, this process reverses in the winter when you turn your heater on.

However, certain factors can contribute to preventing the coil from being able to transfer heat. One of the largest factors is dust: when dust, dirt, and other debris become attached to your condenser coil, they act as a sort-of blanket, which insulates the coil and prevents the heat transfer your system needs to work optimally. Unlike your indoor unit, your outdoor unit doesn’t have a filter in order to strain out this airborne debris that flows through your system, which means your coil will become dirty over time. This leads to inefficiency, longer cycle times, and less effective cooling. It can also lower the capacity of your system, or how much cooling your system can provide. If your system is barely large enough to keep up with your cooling needs as is, then you may notice that your air conditioner simply isn’t cooling your home anymore. This is why we strongly recommend having your coils cleaned at least once a year (both inside and out).

Dirty condenser coils also cause a number of other problems than just reduced cooling capacity, however. Because this leads to longer cycle times, your system will have to run more often, and that means it’ll burn more energy to keep you comfortable. It can also cause strain on other system components as well, including your compressor, which is the heart of your entire system. We’ve seen plenty of failed compressors over our more than 80 years in business, and most of these premature failures could have easily been prevented with coil maintenance.

If you need your coils cleaned, schedule your service by calling the Birmingham air conditioning experts at Standard Heating, Cooling & Plumbing! Call us at (205) 386-4001 today or contact us if you would like more information about our great preventative maintenance plans.

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