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Condenser / Air-Conditioning​

What exactly is a condenser?

A condenser is the outdoor component of an air conditioner or heat pump that either releases or collects heat, depending on the time of the year. The condenser fan is a vital component and circulates the air across the coil to facilitate heat transfer. The compressor is the heart of the system since it compresses the refrigerant and pumps it to a coil in the form of a hot gas.
Both split air conditioners and heat pump condensers are made of the same essential parts that work together. The condenser cabinet contains the condenser coil, a compressor, a fan, and various controls. The condenser coil can be made of copper tubing with aluminum fins or all-aluminum tubing so heat can be rapidly transferred. Two of the main parts are the compressor and the AC condenser.

The compressor is the box outside of your home and the first step in cooling the air. The compressor’s job is to take refrigerant gas and compress it to a liquid that gets sent back inside the house and into the condenser.
The act of compressing gas creates heat, so a fan inside the compressor draws air on the sides to pass through the cooling coils and out of the top of the unit. You must make sure the coils are free of debris from trees, weeds, grass, and bushes. Clogging the coils with such debris will cause your unit not to work properly.

A compressor’s main job is to compress atoms and molecules into a smaller volume. The liquid that was sent into the condenser is now turned back into a gas through pressure falling. Raising the coolant temperature above outdoor ambient temperature causes heat to flow from the coolant into the outside air.
When the refrigerant is turned back into gas, its an endothermic reaction meaning heat is drawn from the air. AC Compressors only accept and compress the refrigerant in gas form from the heated refrigerant. The refrigerant enters the condenser as a high pressure, high-temperature gas, and leaves as a liquid. 

The condenser has cold coils, and the warm air from the house is sent over them to get cooled, then sent back through the ductwork into the home to cool your home. A condensers main job is to remove heat from a source.

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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.

When dust, grime and mineral scales build up on the condenser coil, the air conditioner can’t expel enough heat from the system and it’s forced to run constantly trying to cool your space. The increased pressure and temperature can cause the compressor to overheat and fail.

1. Lukewarm air

One of the first symptoms that a fan has failed is the air coming from the vent being warm. This problem occurs when the condenser has gotten too hot and is no longer able to convert the refrigerant into cooled liquid form. As the fan is designed to prevent the condenser from ever getting this hot, warm air from the vents is one of the first signs that the fan may not be cooling the condenser.

2. Car overheating while idling

Another symptom that may present itself when the fan has failed is the vehicle overheating while the engine is idling with the AC on. During the conversion process, the AC condenser is able to generate a considerable amount of heat, which can affect the overall engine temperature enough to cause overheating. Usually, the overheating will subside once the vehicle is moving due to the increased airflow and cooling the condenser receives when the vehicle is in motion.

3. Burning smell when the AC is on

Another more serious symptom that the condenser fan has failed is the vehicle beginning to emit a burning odor. When the condenser overheats, all of the components of the AC system will begin to overheat until they eventually get hot enough to burn and emit an odor. The longer the components are overheated the more damage is done. So if a burning smell is detected when the AC is turned on, make sure to have the system inspected as soon as possible.

Because the condenser fan cool such an important part of the AC system it is very important to pay attention to its operation if you find that your AC is not working. A failed fan will not only fail to produce cold air, but can even result in damage to the AC system due to overheating. If you suspect that you are having a problem with the condenser fan, make sure to have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. If necessary, they will be able to replace your AC condenser fan so that your car’s AC system can be repaired.

Repairing an air conditioner condenser costs an average of $150 to $1,000 or more. Replacing the entire coil runs $900 to $2,800. Labor alone makes up about half the fees. HVAC technicians charge anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour.

If the condenser is damaged in any way and results in the restriction of refrigerant flow, then the entire cooling system will work less efficiently. If the refrigerant cannot flow properly, then the amount of cool air that the system can produce will be significantly reduced.

In general, you can expect your air conditioner to last 10 to 15 years. Air conditioners that are neglected and are used more frequently can be expected to last about a decade. With mild to moderate use, they can last twice as long.

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