Keeping Your Home Cool during the Sweltering, Summer Months

AC Overheats And Shuts Off? Clean The Condenser Coil Fins

by Anthony Graves

If your air conditioning system repeatedly overheats and shuts off before it reaches the temperature on your thermostat, clean the fins on your outdoor unit's coil. Condenser coils rely on fins to release heat from the system during operation. If the fins clog up with debris, heat can back up into the system and damage the compressor over time. As the heart of your cooling system, it's critical that you keep your compressor in excellent working order throughout the summer and for years to come. Here's what happens if your condenser coil fins clog up and what you can do to clean them.

How Can Dirt and Leaves Affect Your Condenser Coil?

Your outdoor unit, or condenser, receives and releases heat out of the cooling system on a constant basis. The unit relies on several unique parts to do so, including a condenser coil covered with multiple fins and a compressor

The compressor receives the heat load from the indoor unit via refrigerant. In order to get rid of the heat, the compressor transfers it to the condenser coil. If the finned surfaces of the coil are clear, the heat travels out to the environment. But if the fins are blocked by leaves, dirt, and even dead bugs, heat remains inside the coil and eventually backtracks to the compressor. The heat load in the compressor  then builds up until it shuts down or fails.

You can clean the fins to see if it helps solve your cooling problem.

How Do You Clean the Fins Quickly and Effectively?

Before you begin, make sure to cut off the cooling system's power. You can cut electrical power at the circuit breaker inside the house and at the control power switch located near the condenser unit. Now, here's what you do:

  1. Remove the outside cover from the condenser coil. The piece may feature multiple screws, so use a power tool to remove it.
  2. Examine the fins. If the fins appear clean, stop and contact an air conditioning technician, as there may be other issues to repair. If the fins appear dirty, you can proceed with step 3.
  3. Use a water hose to gently clean the fins from top to bottom. 
  4. Allow the fins to dry for an hour or so, then replace the cover.

Return electrical power to the cooling system, and wait for the home to cool down. If the system stays on until it reaches the temperature on your thermostat, you completed the repairs. 

If your cooling system shuts down again before it reaches the temperature on your thermostat, consult with a technician at a company like R & B Inc Heating & Air Conditioning