A/C Condenser Repair - What Causes Condensers to Fail?

A/C Condenser Repair - What Causes Condensers to Fail?

The A/C condenser is the portion of your air conditioner system that is outdoors. Depending on which time of the year it is, it will either collect heat (winter) or release heat (summer). It is one of the most important components and if it fails, A/C condenser repair may be costly.

In air conditioners, the refrigerant is cooled at the condenser into a warm liquid, and passes through a pipe into the evaporator coil where it expands and cools. In heat pumps, the hot gas is pumped directly to the evaporator coil to provide heat.

Both split air conditioner and heat pump condensers are made of the same basic parts. The condenser cabinet contains the condenser coil, a compressor, a fan, and various controls. The condenser coil can be made of copper tubing with aluminum fins or all-aluminum tubing so heat can be rapidly transferred.

The condenser fan is a vital component and circulates the air across the coil to facilitate heat transfer. The compressor is the heart of the system since it compresses the refrigerant and pumps it to a coil in the form of a hot gas.

Where is my A/C Condenser?

Chances are you’ve noticed one or two large, metal boxes outside of your home. Those are your AC system’s condensers. Inside of the condenser is your refrigerant, compressor, condenser coil, a capacitor, an electromagnet, a fan, some relay switches, and other electronic and mechanical components that vary from system to system.

What are the Warning Signs my A/C Condenser Needs Repair?

A/C Condenser issues can first be noticed if your home is taking a long time to cool, or if it isn’t cooling at all.  Other signs can be found outside where the unit has been place. Look around for any leaks, and/or strange noises when the fan turns on. If you notice any of these signs you should call an A/C service technician immediately.

What will causes an A/C Condenser Fail or Malfunction?

When we are called on a service call regarding possible A/C condenser failure, the first thing we do is to check to make sure it is getting electricity. There are many different reasons that could cause your circuit breaker for the condenser to switch off. If your breaker is off, and it pops again after being reset, we will begin to trouble shoot the electrical components of the HVAC system. If we are unable to find any failure or short of the electronics, then the problem maybe in your breaker box. In this case, we will have to refer a licensed electrician to solve that issue first.

If we determine that there is not an electrical problem, the issue is more than likely a refrigerant leak, broken capacitors, broken belts, faulty relay switches, motor failure, or a faulty or broken condenser coil. There are also other larger components such as the A/C compressor that may fail, but these are the most common ones.

What is are the Most Common A/C Condenser Repairs?

The AC condenser is made up of several parts, although it is considered a single component. The A/C condenser’s components can fail individually or in some cases, altogether. Here are some of the most common A/C Condenser Problems:

AC Condenser Repair - Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant leaks within faulty tubes and seals are common in condensers. Refrigerant tubes may rupture, get pinched, punctured, and break apart. The seals can also breakdown if your air conditioner system is not routinely maintained and serviced.

Dirty Condenser Components

AC Condenser Repair - Dirty Condenser

The A/C condenser unit is outside and uses a powerful fan to suck in air. Along with air, dirt and debris are also attracted.  It’s very common for dirt, leaves, grass, and brush near the unit to be sucked in and prevent it from working properly. One of the easiest ways to prevent A/C condenser repairs is to regularly inspect the exterior condition of the unit and make sure it’s reasonably clean and free of debris.


AC Condenser Repair - Blockage

As air is sucked into the condenser unit, particles and debris will accumulate within the AC unit. If enough particles build up, this will lead to a blockage, and then condenser failure. Dirt and debris are not the only cause of blockages. Many times  metal particles will flake off the condenser unit during normal usage.  This will also eventually lead to the condenser failure. The number one rule in preserving the life of your condenser is to have professional, regular, maintenance done at least twice per year.

Bad Condenser Capacitor

AC Condenser Repair - Bad Capacitor

In order for the A/C condenser’s fans to spin correctly, the fan’s motor needs to be energized with Run Capacitors. In most cases the failure of the a run capacitor can be diagnosed when the fan’s motor jumps or won’t start at all. Run capacitors can decline gradually or go out suddenly.

Control Board Failure

AC Condenser Repair - Control Board Failure

The control board is the brain of the condenser unit. It contains circuits that allow the condenser to communicate with various other parts of the air condition system.  If the control board is fails, critical components like the fan motor and the coil don’t function or switch on or off like they are intended. When communication breaks down, the entire HVAC system operation can be compromised.


AC Condenser Repair - Faulty Relay SwitchFaulty Condenser Relay Switch

Another important component of the condenser unit is the fan’s relay switch. The relay switch is what tells the fan to turn on or off when the thermostat triggers it. Without a functioning fan, the condenser and the larger AC unit will not work effectively.

Coil Damage

AC Condenser Repair - Coil Damage

Damage of the condenser coil is one of the most sever issues that can occur.  A variety of things, including impact and corrosion can damage the coil. If damage occurs to the coil, the entire HVAC system will fail.

Motor Problems

AC Condenser Repair - Motor Problems

Condenser motors typically fail as the result of stress and poor maintenance over a long period of time. Condenser motor failure often occurs very gradually with wear. This process is called “Motor Burn” and it leads to the fan motor moving more slowly, which in turn causes other components to work harder and the entire system to work much less effectively.


How does AM Aire Repair an A/C Condenser?

After ensuring your condenser is getting electricity, we investigate all signs previous noted and troubleshoot each component. If we find a damaged or bad component then we will repair or replace them. Problems related to refrigerant leaks need to be diagnosed with proper leak detection equipment. If a leak is found, we will replace the coils, seals, pipes or fittings and then recharge your air condition system with refrigerant.

Important Note Regarding A/C Condensers Using 22 Refrigerant

If your air condition system was manufactured before 2003, it is likely that it uses R-22 refrigerant. Since R-22 has been determined to have bad effects on the environment it is scheduled to be completely phased out by 2020.This means if your refrigerant leaks out after the year 2020, you will have no choice but to replace your entire HVAC system. If AM Aire finds issues with your condenser which still uses R-22 we will present options to replace your AC system with a new one that uses R-410a.

We strongly recommend that you plan ahead and budget for this large expenditure before the R-22 is no longer available and AM Aire offers monthly finance plans for purchase and installation of a new HVAC system. Be sure to ask your service technician about all available finance options available.

AC Condenser Repair – Pinellas County Florida

If you’re already noticing a problem with your AC system and/or condenser, call us right away. Early detection and diagnosis of the problem may allow us to fix your air conditioner with a simple repair. But, if a repair isn’t possible, Compressor or Condenser replacement may be an option, at a cost sign.

Contact AM Aire today to schedule a review and diagnostic of your entire system.

Our expert technicians will inspect each of your cooling and heating components and make sure they are working correctly. If one or more is not, we will recommend the best options for repair or replacement. You are not obligated to complete any repairs or replacements with us after this service.