Essential guide to AC Condenser Coil & FAQ

How often should you clean your AC condenser coil? How do I know if my condenser coil is bad? These are all questions related to the condenser coil that we have been asked many times. If you need answers, we hope this blog post will help!

What is the condenser coil in an air conditioner?

Devices that transfer heat from any medium to another are called condenser coils. In an air conditioner, one of the many components that allow the unit to remove outside the warmth and vent it into the space being air-conditioned is the condenser coil.

These are different from evaporator coils, which they are often confused with, which are responsible for indoor air, and are located inside the space being cooled, while condenser coils are located outdoors.

Where is the AC condenser coil located?

The outdoor part of your AC unit is covered with thin metal wiring, the condenser fins, and the condenser coil is located just behind these fins. In an outdoor unit, condenser coils wrap around the components on the inside, and for the exterior unit, they act like sidewalls.

It is often wholly exposed, though protection of wire coil guards that are sturdy, or may at times, be less visible as it is shielded by an outer panel of metal that has louvres. In some models, the outer casing and the top need to be removed.

The Function of Condenser Coil

Condenser coils are made out of copper and act to hold the liquid form of the refrigerant. Pressure on the gas is increased by the compressor, causing its condensation into the liquid form. The change into the liquid state results in it releasing the heat that it has. This heat is dispersed to the outside atmosphere. The liquid refrigerant then is moved back to the inside, allowing the cycle to start all over again.

How do I know if my condenser coil is bad?

Blows Hot Air or Cools Insufficiently

A problem with the condenser coil is indicated when air does not get cooled when an air conditioning unit is turned on. The refrigerant and these coils must remove the heat from inside and blow in cooler air. When this coil gets clogged or dirty, your unit will still function, but there will be no air cooling.  

When condenser coils stop working, the efficiency of your unit could go down by as much as 30%. Low refrigerant levels can also cause insufficient cooling. If you are sure of the refrigerant level, then it is the condenser that may be causing the problem. Damage to these coils can be prevented if they are always clear of debris.

Refrigerant Leaks

Problems with the entire system can be caused by leaks in the coils and its condenser, but these leaks are at times difficult to spot. Coils remove heat from the air because of the refrigerant that runs through them. Leaks can be caused by damage caused by debris and dirt. Ultimately this can lead to the complete breakdown of the system.  Leaks in condensers lead to refrigerant levels being lowered, reducing the cooling ability of the system. When you find that refrigerant levels are dropping when they have no reason to do so, you need to investigate the possibility of a leak.   

What happens if the AC condenser is dirty?

Higher bills for electricity

When the condenser coils are blocked by shrubs or covered in dirt and debris, they cannot remove the heat from the air outside. This results in the AC has to work harder for a longer time to cool the inside of your home. A study made by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has concluded that if a condenser coil is dirty, you will require 30% more energy for cooling your home.

Greater chances of an early breakdown

A dirty condenser coil requires your AC to run for longer periods, and this increases the wear and tear in it. Increased wear and tear make the risk of shortening the life of your AC that much greater.

Increase in operating temperatures

The system gets stressed unduly if there is an excessive build-up of debris and dirt, and it results in compressors and fans having to work harder at higher operating temperatures if the desired cooling comfort is to be achieved.

Reduction in comfort

As a natural part of the process of cooling, an air conditioning system also removes humidity which is unwanted and makes for discomfort. The system’s overall effectiveness is affected by dirty coils, which results in the inside humidity being high and reducing the level of comfort.

Decrease in cooling efficiency

The system’s operation becomes less efficient when it is forced to work harder to release or absorb heat because dirt and debris have built up over the surface of the coils.

Repairs and replacement

When your AC system breaks down because its components have been overstressed, you are forced to call in your service provider to have components replaced, or in more extreme cases, you may be required to replace the entire system.

Should you clean the condenser coil?

Yes. It would be best if you cleaned the condenser regularly. There is very little space between the coil fins, and this results in the cooling, causing surface moisture, and reduction in the air flowing over them, and as a result, pollutants, dirt, and debris tend to build up over them.

This build-up over some time causes a reduction in the system’s ability to transference heat into and out of a home, reducing its ability to provide the cooling you require in summer. In very extreme cases of dirty coils, airflow, a vital part of the cooling process, gets blocked.

The result then is an uncomfortable home and higher electricity bills because of the loss in efficiency. Dirty coils will make the system work harder than they are supposed to, and this can make things worse if it leads to expensive repair bills and a shortening of the system’s working life. To put it in a few words, a clean air conditioner coil leads to more efficiency in the working of the system.  

How To Clean Your Air Conditioner Condenser Coil?

Try this DIY method to clean a dirty outside condenser unit.

  1. Leaves and debris that have stuck to the condenser must be removed.
  2. A hose on gentle setting to clean up the dirt and debris. Condenser coil cleaners can also be used to clean the debris.
  3. All shrubbery must be at least three feet from the outdoor unit, and if necessary, cut the shrubs that are nearer.

Or you may watch this video for more tips.

Is water enough to clean the condenser coil?

You can clean the condenser coils using water and a mild household detergent or go to the market and buy any of the coil cleaning solutions that are commercially available.

Use a low-pressure sprayer to apply your detergent and water mixture. Allow it to drain out naturally, or rinse it lightly with your garden hose, once the dirt has been removed. 

  1. Your garden sprayer, hand sprayer or spray bottle must use warm water with the detergent.
  2. Allow your solution to be applied to the coils.
  3. Leave it for a few minutes so that the debris gets soaked. If not clean enough, reapply the solution.
  4. Wipe away all loose material with a brush or soft cloth.

How much does it cost to clean condenser coils?

You would require to spend between $80 and $120 to clean your outdoor unit condenser coils. Use a standard garden hose with the needed chemicals to access the coils. Be careful when you are doing this, as otherwise, the fins and other components can be damaged. We recommend that you get a specialist in air conditioning to clean them for you.


In this blog post, we have answered some of the most popular questions about AC condenser coils. If you still need help or advice on any other aspects related to your air conditioner and its coil, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We would be happy to answer all of your queries and provide a free quote for installation if needed.

Related Read: 2 Types Of Air Conditioner Coils And How These Coils Work

Last Updated on

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *