The outdoor portion of a split system air conditioner or heat pump is called a condenser. As its name suggests, it’s responsible for cooling down and condensing refrigerant vapor into liquid, before sending it back to the interior unit. A condenser is therefore an essential component of central air conditioners, heat pumps, and other split system ACs.
Although modern AC condensers can easily last 10+ years, regular wear and tear will eventually cause them to malfunction in some way. When this occurs, you’ll have to call in an air conditioner repair service in Menifee and the surrounding communities to fix or replace the condenser.
In previous articles, we discussed the different types of AC systems and listed the telltale signs of a failing condenser. Now we’ll answer some common questions about malfunctioning condensers and what to do if your condenser starts acting up. Read on to learn more.
What causes an AC condenser to stop working?
Regardless of which type of air conditioning system you have, there are certain commonalities between them that make troubleshooting easier. Unless there are clear signs that the condenser is faulty (eg., it’s letting out strange noises or its fan isn’t spinning), you should first do the following:
- Check if the outdoor breaker fuse is positioned properly
- Make sure there aren’t any tripped breakers on your electrical panel
- Check if the thermostat is turned on
- Take a look at the air filters and make sure they aren’t clogged
- Verify that the condensate pump is working correctly
If all of the above is in order, you may be dealing with some of these AC condenser problems:
Electrical issues can cause acids to build up and damage the wiring. This can result in system burnout, which can ruin the compressor and cause catastrophic damage to other components. If your AC has abruptly shut down, you may have an electrical malfunction on your hands.
Blocked or damaged suction lines
Regular use will eventually cause your AC’s refrigerant lines to develop cracks and holes. This will limit refrigerant flow and force the system to work harder while also delivering less cooling. If left unaddressed, this problem will lead to temperature and pressure increases, which will in turn cause overheating and compressor failure.
Low refrigerant levels
Failing to address refrigerant leaks or refill refrigerant as needed will inevitably lead to overheating. This can negatively impact not only your condenser, but also the other components in your AC and may even be hazardous.
AC condensers frequently accumulate dust, grime, and other debris during operation. When this happens in the condenser coil, it limits the coil’s ability to release hot air, which makes the AC less efficient and forces it to work harder. If allowed to persist, this problem will eventually cause the condenser to overheat, damaging or even completely ruining some components.
Presence of contaminants
Contaminants such as fungi, insects, bacteria, and organic waste (leaves, bird droppings, etc.) can get inside the AC condenser and cause component failure. This issue is exacerbated by the heat within the condenser, which fosters the growth of contaminants. To prevent this problem, have your AC serviced and cleaned by a trained HVAC technician on an annual basis.
Can I replace just the AC condenser?
When an AC condenser fails so completely that repairs are either impossible or too expensive to make financial sense, a HVAC technician will usually recommend that you replace both the outdoor and indoor portions of your air conditioning system. However, there are exceptions to this.
If your AC is still under warranty, the manufacturer may be able to provide you with a completely new, fully compatible condenser at a minimal or no cost. Since this new condenser is the exact same make and model as the old one, it should work flawlessly with the interior unit.
However, if you have an older air conditioning system, or if it’s no longer under warranty, replacing the entire system is usually the more financially viable option.
Consider the refrigerant
If your AC still uses R-22 (Freon) refrigerant, investing in a new air conditioner is the recommended option even if you have access to a compatible condenser replacement. Since R-22 is no longer being produced in the US due to the negative impact it has on the environment, your old AC will soon become obsolete anyway simply because replacing the refrigerant after it runs out will no longer be possible.
Replacing it with a newer model that uses the R-410 refrigerant makes your cooling system compliant with federal environmental protection laws, while also providing long-term savings due to the advanced energy-efficiency and quality-of-life features modern air conditioners are equipped with.
How long does it take to install a condenser unit?
On average, it takes 4-8 hours to install or replace an entire central air conditioning unit. The length of time varies depending on the size of the condenser unit, where it’s being installed, the condition of the ductwork, the experience and proficiency of the HVAC technicians who are doing the job, and more.
As a rule of thumb, licensed HVAC technicians should be able to replace an AC condenser in a couple of hours. However, sudden weather changes, cluttered or otherwise difficult-to-access installation area, and other unexpected factors may prolong the time it takes to install your new condenser.
Where can I find a reliable air conditioner repair service in Menifee & the area?
Action Air Conditioning & Heating Installation is an acclaimed company that carries out HVAC and solar installation, repair, and maintenance services across Menifee, La Jolla, Encinitas, Escondido, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore, and other communities in San Diego and Riverside Counties.
Our seasoned technicians will happily make sure your heating and cooling systems are working flawlessly while you focus on your other responsibilities, or simply enjoy a family afternoon at the Lazy Creek Recreation Center. Contact us today if you’d like to book our services or ask further questions about who we are and what we provide.