Inspecting And Maintaining The Aluminum Fins Attached To Your AC Condenser Unit


If you have a central air conditioning system, then you likely have an indoor and outdoor unit attached to the cooling system. The outdoor part of the system is called the condenser and it should be inspected closely for any signs of disrepair. This allows you to complete necessary fixes before the cooling function of the system is directly affected. When you complete your inspection, you should look closely at the aluminum fins that protrude from the side of the condenser. There are various types of issues you may see when looking at the fins. Keep reading to learn about the ways that the fins should be repaired or maintained.

Dirty Fins

Both the condenser and evaporator parts of the air conditioning unit will have aluminum fins attached to them. These fins serve different purposes based on their location. The outdoor evaporator fins sit very near the compressor pump. This pump compresses the coolant and moves it along the system so air can be cooled properly. Before the coolant can be compressed, it must cool down. The aluminum fins allow heat to escape through the side of the compressor. Each fin sits about one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch apart from one another. The spaces between the fins easily collect with debris. This debris stops heat from escaping outside the air conditioner. When this happens, the compressor pump is placed under a great deal of stress because it must move warm coolant.

If you notice a great deal of dirt and debris in between the fins, then clean them as soon as possible. While some people may use a hose to clean the fins, this is not always a good idea. When high pressure water is forced into the unit, wiring can be dislodged. Also, if any wiring is loose or exposed, the moisture can cause a shorting issue. 

To clean the fins without water pressure, purchase a can of dissolving and foaming AC fin cleaner. This material contains surfactants, heavy duty alkaline cleaners, and foaming agents. The foaming agents help the cleaning solution stick to the coils, the surfactant breaks up the oils in the debris, and the cleaner helps to force the dirt away from the fins. Once you spray the foam, the foam will dissolve after it works to free the dirt. Once this happens, you can use a cloth to gently wipe the debris away.

Bent Fins

When you clean and inspect the aluminum AC fins, you may notice that quite a few of the fins are bent. Aluminum is a relatively strong metal. However, it is highly malleable and this allows it to bend easily. Bent fins stop the venting of heated air in much the same way as dirty fins can. You can bend the fins back into place, but you do need to be careful when doing so. You do not want to break off the fins, because they cannot be individually replaced. The fins are attached directly to the condenser coils. The entire coil needs to be replaced if too many of the fins break off. The only time that the fins should be intentionally removed is if they are smashed. Smashed fins can rarely be straightened properly and they can cut and damage the small pipes that make up the condenser coil. Look for any fins that are smashed or crumpled first. If you see any of these fins, then use a utility knife or a pair of tin snips to cut the smashed fin at the base of the coil.

Once smashed coils are released, purchase an AC fin straightener tool to flatten out the rest of the fins. Gently work the tool horizontally across the fins to straighten them. Most fin straightening tools will have different prongs that are spaced out along the tool. Choose the prong width that best matches the spaces between the fins of your AC system. 

You may also want to consider reaching out to a professional, such as A & E Heating and AC Inc, to complete this project for you. 


8 December 2016

Learning About HVAC Services

Hi there, I am Nadine Bachmier. I am going to discuss the various ways HVAC contractors can keep the temperatures in your business stable. HVAC contractors focus on maintaining and repairing the air conditioner, furnace, and ductwork used in your building. To keep the heating and cooling system in good shape, contractors may need to replace internal components, clean out channels, or simply perform a full upgrade. I will talk about the tools and techniques used to maintain and repair the equipment in your building. I will also share information about new products as they hit the HVAC market. I hope you will follow along and learn all you can.