When you think of AC maintenance, you might think of changing the filter or having a tune-up in the spring, but you might not give much thought to what an AC maintenance technician actually does. They perform many checks and preventative maintenance tasks on both the indoor and outdoor parts of your AC. One important job is cleaning and straightening the fins. Here's a look at the purpose of the fins, how they get damaged, and how a service tech maintains them.
The Purpose Of Condenser Fins
The fins on the condenser outside are the thin metal strips along the sides of the AC. The fins are part of the condenser coils, so if the fins are severely damaged, you may need to buy new fins and new coils since they're attached. The purpose of the fins is to help direct heat away from the air conditioner. Refrigerant flows through the coils and the coils release heat through the fins. If the fins are bent or clogged, heat can't escape and your AC may not cool your house as well as it should.
The Ways AC Fins Are Damaged
The fins can get clogged with dirt and grass clippings, get bent, or even corrode away if your dog makes a habit of urinating on your air conditioner. Storms can drive mud in the fins, or the wind can slam lawn furniture or tree debris against the fins and bend them. Hail might cause fin damage, as can power washing the condenser or just using too much pressure when hand washing.
AC Maintenance That's Necessary For Condenser Fins
Fortunately, the condenser fins can be maintained properly to prevent the need to replace them. When you have annual AC maintenance, the technician will alert you to problems with the fins so you can take steps to protect the fins in the future.
For instance, you may need to put a small fence around your AC to keep your dog away, or you may need to put a border of gravel around the condenser so you don't have to mow or use the weed trimmer so close to the unit.
The maintenance technician cleans the condenser as part of a tuneup, and that includes cleaning dirt, debris, and grass clippings out of the fins. The technician can then observe the fins for damage. The technician can use tools made for straightening fins, so even though there may be several bent fins, they can usually be straightened back out.
In the case of severe fin damage, such as part of the fins being eaten away by rust or acidic dog urine, it may be necessary to replace the fins and coils. However, if you keep up with annual tune-ups, the risk of severe damage is much lower. Plus, a few bent or damaged fins isn't necessarily an emergency. Bent fins are a problem when so many of them are bent that airflow is restricted from inside the condenser.
To learn more about maintaining your AC system, contact a company like Laroc Refrigeration-Metal Division.