Outside Doesn't Mean Dirt-Resistant: Clean The Cooling Fins On Your AC Compressor

Posted on: 20 January 2019


Your central air conditioning compressor has to be able to handle bad weather because of the compressor's outdoor location. However, that doesn't mean the compressor is maintenance-free. You still need to perform maintenance on the whole system, including the outdoor compressor. Neglecting the compressor can lead to a quick AC breakdown, something that you don't want to deal with in summer when repair companies are handling a high volume of calls.

Air Intake Includes Dirt

Any time you have air flowing into a device through a filter, you'll end up with dirt on the filter. The compressor is surrounded by cooling fins, which both cool the air and act as a large filter; you can see the fins through the compressor housing grille. As the air conditioner sucks in more and more air -- this air helps to cool down the coolant inside the compressor, and then the air is expelled through the top of the compressor -- the fins pick up more dirt. Plus, they pick up dirt just through being outdoors.

These Fins Clog Like Filters

The problem is that these fin arrays clog like filters because eventually the dirt piles up. And it's even worse because that airflow often contains leaf bits, twigs, feathers, and more. However, you don't have to change the fins like you do with filters in order to clean them; you can vacuum them.

First, turn off the power to the condenser. Never perform maintenance on the condenser while the power is on.

Get a vacuum out and place the upholstery attachment (or another very soft brush attachment) at the end of the hose. Very carefully vacuum up the debris. Sometimes you can do this through the grille; other times you'll have to remove that housing to reach the fins. Keep in mind that the fins can break easily; they're usually metal, but they're still fragile.

Efficiency Rises When the Compressor Is Clean

Once that debris is gone, you may notice an increase in cooling efficiency from the unit. Removing the debris allows for better airflow, which increases the amount of cooled air that eventually reaches the coolant.

There is more maintenance that needs to be done on air conditioning systems. Some you can do yourself, but a repair technician really needs to handle other aspects. As warmer weather starts to creep into the forecasts, get that maintenance done while companies still have room on their schedules. Contact a company, like Precision Temp Heating & Cooling, to get started.