Most central air conditioner systems have two essential parts that allow cool air to breeze through your home. One part of the system sits inside your house, and this is where cool air is blown through the vents. The other unit sits just outside your home. This part of the system is called the condenser, and it contains a fan, a compressor, and copper cooling lines. The evaporator has a casing on the exterior and the telltale metal fins. While the fins may not immediately seem important to the overall cooling system, they do assist the unit in providing your home with cool air. The fins allow outside air to move through the casing, over the coolant coils, and out the top of the unit with the help of the fan. To assist with this process, you will need to take care of the fins. Keep reading to learn how.
Keep Them Straight
Air conditioner fins are typically made out of aluminum. This metal is used because it is inexpensive and lightweight. There are typically dozens of condenser fins that sit on the exterior of your air conditioner, and these fins help to direct air over the condenser coils inside the unit. The fins have small spaces in between them, and this helps to reduce the amount of debris and water that is pulled into the condenser unit. Without the fins, vents would be needed, and debris would be free to congest the AC system.
The aluminum fins are straight, and this allows for efficient air flow. However, the fins can bend fairly easily since aluminum is pliable. When the fins bend, air flow through the unit is reduced. This may cause the fan to work harder to try and pull air through the system. This can increase your electric bills. Also, the reduction in air flow will mean that the condenser coils cannot release heat. This can reduce the ability of the coolant to cool your air. You may notice that your air conditioner turns on more when this happens and the air that does come into your home is warmer than it should be.
To reduce air flow issues, inspect and straighten the fins as soon as they appear bent. You will need a fin comb to do the straightening. A fin comb is a handheld tool with a variety of different prongs on the end. These prongs fit into the fins of the AC unit and straighten them as you move the tool horizontally. While the straightening can be completed with a flathead screwdriver, the comb can straighten multiple fins at once. This will help to increase the speed of the job and also assist with keeping the fins consistent when opening them.
Clean Away Corrosion
When you straighten the AC fins, also make sure to inspect them for damage. Aluminum will not rust, but it will corrode. Corrosion will usually be seen in the form of pitting, and you will see discolored and brittle spots along the fins if corrosion has set in. Aluminum corrosion is typically caused by chemicals like ammonia. While you may not use ammonia to clean the coils, your dog or another animal may have urinated on the AC condenser. Since urine contains a good concentration of ammonia, this can easily cause fin corrosion. If you see corrosion, then you should clean it off before the fins deteriorate any further.
Use a product called aluminum jelly or naval jelly to do the cleaning. This product is an acid-based one that will cut through aluminum oxidation. If you do not want to use this sort of product, then you can use vinegar and water to do the cleaning instead. Place about one cup of vinegar and one cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the corroded area and use a cotton rag to scrub at the area. You can use vinegar to complete general fin cleaning as well. Simply spray the solution and wipe the fins with a clean cloth. Lemon juice can be added to the mixture as well, or you can use a lemon and water mix for cleaning purposes instead.
If you follow these tips and still see damage to the find, it may be time to call in the professionals from a company like Always Ready Repair for help to get your unit back to peak shape.