What is an Air Conditioner Condenser and How To Repair

AC Condenser Repair Guide

Understanding an Air Conditioner Condenser and How to Repair It

An air conditioner condenser is responsible for cooling down and condensing refrigerant vapor into liquid. The condenser itself contains many parts; when the unit breaks down, it typically means that one or more parts in the condenser will have to be replaced.

A working condenser is an important part of central AC, heat pumps and other split air conditioning systems. While many modern condensers can last a decade or more, they will eventually need to be repaired or replaced. Knowing when and how to fix this unit helps you stay cool with the most efficient operation.

What Is the AC Condenser?

Every air conditioner is made up of various components. These include a compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. The air conditioner condenser is the exterior component and is usually found outside the house. It is the component that is responsible for the air conditioner's cooling as it plays an important role in heat transfer.

How a Goodman AC Condenser Works

A Goodman air conditioner condenser, or an AC condenser from other brands such as AirQuest and Choice Refrigerants, is responsible for converting refrigerant gas into liquid form. The compressor, which is located in the air conditioner unit, compresses the refrigerant and pushes into through the condenser. The air conditioner works just like a car's radiator and helps to remove heat from the refrigerant creating more surface area to rapidly cool the refrigerant.

Air conditioner unit

After leaving the condenser, the refrigerant is a lot colder, which turns it into a liquid under the high pressure. The refrigerant is sent into the house through the line set and sprayed into the evaporator coil through a small nozzle. The pressure then drops and the refrigerant turns back into a gas. As the refrigerant goes from a liquid to a gas state, it pulls heat from the air around it, leaving the air cooler than what it was before. The refrigerant then returns to the compressor through the line set and begins the cycle again.

Common Issues with an Air Conditioner Condenser

Even though the air conditioner's condenser is a single component, it is made up of different parts. These include:

  • A motor
  • Fans
  • Tubes
  • Condenser coil
  • Circuit board
  • Compressor

When these parts fail, they might do so either together or separately. Also, the failure can happen all of a sudden or over a period of time. Below is a list of some of the most common issues that homeowners encounter with their air conditioner's condensers. In many cases, if a specific part has failed, that part can be replaced without needing to get a new unit.

1.5 TON 13 SEER GOODMAN AIR CONDITIONER CONDENSER

Leaks

Leaks found within seals and faulty tubes are one of the reasons why your unit's condenser might fail. The condenser's tubes may become brittle over time and break, get punctured or rupture. On the other hand, after getting used for an extended period of time, seals may crack and break down. Although these parts can fail due to impact, the most common reason for failure is ongoing wear.

Dirty Components

The air conditioner condenser is usually set up outside the home. Because of this, it's not unusual for the condenser or some of the parts to get dirty over time. Usually, brush, grass and other plants will grow around the unit, which hinders the components from working effectively.

If you ever notice that your air conditioner is not cooling your home as well as it should, you should check the condenser's exterior first to ensure the inefficiency is not caused by debris and dirt.

Bad Run Capacitor

The condenser's run capacitors are responsible for powering its fan motors. A bad run capacitor can be deceiving in the sense that it causes a jump, but won't actually start the motor. If you're having trouble starting the motor, chances are that the run capacitor is the issue. Run capacitors might go out suddenly or deteriorate over time.

Blockage

Over time, debris and other particles might clog up the air conditioner, leading to blockages that cause your air conditioner to fail. Not all debris comes from outside - some of it might be as a result of metal parts in the condenser flaking off. This flaking is usually due to poor maintenance or age and ultimately leads the condenser unit to self-destruct.

Bad Relay Switch

This refers to a critical component of the condenser that is responsible for switching the fan on or off when you switch the air conditioner on and off. When the fan is no longer functioning, the larger air conditioner unit no longer works effectively.

Faulty Control Board

The control board is the circuit board that facilitates communication between various parts in the condenser. A faulty control board means that there's a communication breakdown. This means that critical parts like the fan motor will not switch on or off when they should.

Burnt Motor

It's rare for the motor to go out all of a sudden. The deterioration is almost always a gradual process. Motors usually fail due to lack of proper maintenance and as a result of stress. AC condenser motor repair saves you money by replacing the motor itself with changing any other parts.

Damaged Coil

The condenser coil is one of the most critical parts in a condenser unit. A damaged condenser coil compromises the efficiency of your entire AC unit. There are a number of factors that might lead to a damaged coil, including:

  • Impact
  • Corrosion
  • Debris

How to Know When to Replace Your AC Condenser

When determining whether to replace your broken-down condenser unit or repair it, you'll need to consider the age of the equipment. An older, less efficient AC condenser may cost the same or even more to repair than to replace. A new AC condenser can be bought online, with prices starting around $800, plus installation. The cost of an AC condenser fan motor repair or coil repair might vary from $150 to $1,000.

Between repair costs and improvements in efficiency for newer systems, you might find it better to replace the unit after a few years even when the condenser can be quickly repaired. Because newer models tend to be more efficient than older models, in the long term, it will save you more money to have a new unit than your old one.

Repairing Your AC Unit

In some cases, you won't have a choice about buying another condenser. There are two issues that, when encountered, mean you'll need a new condenser replacement:

Leaks

Even though it might sound like a small issue, a leak in your condenser will ultimately mean that you need to purchase a new unit. This is because it's not possible to replace seals or condenser tubes, making AC condenser leak repair futile even for professionals.

Blockage

If your air conditioner unit gets blocked, take it as a sign that you need to replace your condenser. Unfortunately, when a condenser gets clogged, it means you also have to replace other expensive components such as the compressor. Instead, it would be make more sense if you replaced the entire air conditioner unit.

We have efficient Goodman air conditioner condensers in stock at HVACDirect.com with wholesale prices and free shipping. Let us know if you need any assistance purchasing an air conditioner condenser.

AC Condenser Repair Frequently Asked Questions

What are signs of a bad AC condenser?

The five biggest signs your AC condenser is failing are:

  1. Loud or unusual noises coming from the condenser (such as growling and clattering).
  2. Much lower cooler power than normal.
  3. Leaking noticeably more fluid then it typically does from condensation alone.
  4. Difficulty getting the condenser to start.
  5. The unit keeps tripping the circuit breaker.

How much does it cost to replace an air conditioner condenser?

Replacing the condenser in your AC system can cost anywhere from $796 to $2,800 depending on the size of the unit. This is before the cost of hiring a certified HVAC technician to install the new unit, so bear that in mind when budgeting.

Should I repair my air conditioner condenser or replace it?

When your air conditioner condenser breaks or stops working the way it should, you may be tempted to see if you can have it repaired rather than replacing it. Air conditioner condenser repair costs are typically close to replacement costs, and new condensers are often significantly more efficient than older models.

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