What Is an HVAC Condenser and What If It Goes Bad

What Happens If Your Condenser Goes Bad?

If you want the best you can have when it comes to your air conditioning unit, the best way to prevent any costly repairs is to perform regular maintenance.

But sometimes, even a well-maintained system can run into issues, and addressing the problems right away is essential to avoiding major concerns later on.

What happens if your condenser goes bad? A bad condenser can cause a lot of issues. For instance, your AC may not be able to produce as much cool air as it normally would be able to. As a result, you will end up having a higher energy bill despite less efficiency and comfort.

This article aims to teach you more about the basics of a condenser in your air-conditioned unit and some common issues your condenser faces regularly.

The Use of a Condenser in an AC Unit

An air conditioning unit is a very complex thing, and it has different vital components that can be found inside. All of these components work together to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your living spaces.

If all of these components are of good quality, you can trust your system to deliver a fantastic performance. This is why it is good to investigate how air conditioning units work and understand every component’s purpose and function.

There are four vital components of an air conditioning unit: a compressor, a condenser, a meter, and an evaporator. All of them work closely together to ensure that you have a temperature inside of your house that is comfortable and breezy.

The Role of a Condenser

The condenser is mainly the component that turns all pressurized and heated refrigerant vapor into a cool liquid. All this contained liquid will then run through the air conditioning system, which will help cool the indoor temperature.

It is also responsible for soaking up the heat to draw inside your room and transport it back to the condenser. Without a good-quality condenser, your air conditioning unit won’t be able to cool properly and efficiently.

Different Types of Air Conditioner Condensers

AC condensers can come in many forms and shapes. Some perform better than others, but it really requires a higher upfront investment. Here are some brief introductions that you can check if you are looking for the perfect one for you:

Air-Cooled Condenser

Air-cooled condensers are common condensers in most residential areas because they are considered to be affordable. They are also perfect and efficient if you are trying to cool small spaces.

They are pretty easy to install, and the maintenance is not hard to follow, making them appealing to many homeowners and some business owners. Below are the primary components of an air-cooled condenser:

Condenser Fan Blade – Most air-cooled condensers draw air from the outdoors and use it to reject heat that is trapped in the superheated refrigerant vapor. The condenser fan is responsible for pulling the outside air in and blowing out the heated air.

Condenser Motor – The condenser motor is responsible for the fan and controls its speed and operation. This ensures that it blows the air over the coils at the perfect time and for the right duration.

Condenser Coils – Condenser coils are one of the main components of a condenser unit. These coils are normally made from copper, which is a perfect heat-conducting metal.

The system then pushes the refrigerant through the use of coils, ensuring that the vapor cools down to a liquid state.

Compressor – When it comes to an air-cooled condenser, most of them have a compressor found in their casing. This can save a lot of space and makes the unit even smaller.

The bad news is that it comes at the cost of efficiency, as these units take more power and time to cool the refrigerant compared to the other options available.

Water-Cooled Condenser

Water-cooled condensers are more in-demand for many commercial and industrial properties.

This is because they can cool large areas efficiently, and they consume a relatively low amount of electricity.

They are considered to be more energy-efficient, but they have a higher upfront cost, and the installation cost and the process are a little more complicated.

If you look into science basics, water is considered cooler than the air around your AC unit. As a result, it helps with the heat transfer process, and this system operates at a much lower condensing temperature.

This means it will take less time to be able to cool, and the good thing is that it consumes a low amount of energy.

However, you need to be careful because this system has some disadvantages. In addition to needing a regular supply of water for it to work, you also need to make sure that the water you use is clean and non-corrosive.

It should be at a specific temperature to ensure that the refrigerant cools effectively.

Evaporative Condenser

An evaporative condenser is basically a combination of air- and water-cooled condensing systems. It might not be as efficient as most water-cooled condensers, but it is a good option if you have large-scale cooling requirements.

The superheated vapor from the compressor is circulated mainly through the coils of the system.

The water present in the container wets all of these copper tubes and partially cools down the refrigerant inside. The coils will then emerge from the water container and be exposed to cool air.

This causes some of the water on the coils to evaporate, and also works to cool the refrigerant inside until it is in liquid form and ideal to use.

How Does a Condenser Work?

The coolant, most commonly known as the refrigerant, is mainly responsible for removing and absorbing all the heat within your indoor space.

It will then emit this heat into your outside area and the external atmosphere. This can be accomplished with the help of your condenser. The refrigerant will then leave the evaporator in the form of a high-pressured and hot gas that enters through the suction line.

Every single condenser is equipped with a piston that will do the job of condensing the gas.

Once all of this is finished, both the temperature and the pressure of the gas will increase.

The condensed gas will exit and enter through the discharge line. Because most of the heat flows from a higher temperature to a lower one, the heat store in the refrigerant will automatically be transferred outside the room.

Upon completion of the task, the coolant will return to its normal temperature and liquid form and then return to the original point in this never-ending cycle.

Common Condenser Unit Problems

Most condenser units can stand the test of time, but you will still encounter some issues with your unit, even if you have a well-maintained one.

If your air conditioner’s condenser unit is going bad, you will be able to notice some signs. Here are a few condenser problems that indicate it’s time to get your condenser cleaned and checked.

Not Blowing Enough Cool Air

If your air conditioner suddenly stops blowing cold air or stops cooling a room, it is due to several reasons. One of these reasons might be because of a faulty condenser.

For example, for an air conditioner to work properly, the discharge pressure should be higher than the normal suction pressure. If there is a discrepancy between the discharge and suction pressures, the condenser is most likely the culprit.

If this is the case, this might be the perfect time to call for some professional help.

A Leak in the Coolant of Your Air Conditioner

As you can probably tell, your condenser plays a very important role in your AC’s overall performance. It works by transmitting the coolant through the coils. The condenser will then move in, making sure the liquid evaporates.

The condenser and the compressor are connected by pipes which the cooled air flows through. If this happens, you have a leakage in one of these pipes. It will affect the performance of the two parts.

As a result, the air conditioning system will not work properly at all. This is a very typical problem in most AC condensers, and it should be taken care of by a professional. Do not fix it by yourself, as there are some complications inside.

Leaking Refrigerant

Condenser failure can be caused mostly by leaks within your seals and faulty tubes. This is because tubes can easily get pinched or suffer from wear, and they will break, especially after extensive usage.

In many air conditioners, thin tubes are responsible for transferring refrigerant between the condenser and the compressor.

It is highly likely that once these tubes start leaking, they could be a source of concern for the entire system. If your aircon is making a constant alarm sound or if there is frost in your aircon pipes, consider having it checked.

An HVAC technician will diagnose the issue and provide you with the right way to fix the leak.

Electrical Faults

As you are probably aware, your air conditioning unit consists of several different components that work in unison to deliver cool breezes in your indoor space.

For example, the condenser’s motor, which uses a lot of electricity, powers the fan and the unit. Because most of the components are linked to one another, a fault in one part can lead to many defects in other parts.

As a result, any faults in your electrical circuit can be damaged easily, which can lead to a malfunctioning unit.

The Presence of Dirt and Debris

One of the main issues that plague most HVAC condensers is the accumulation of unwanted dirt and debris inside.

Because most AC condensers can be found outside of the property of your house or office space, they can very easily collect dirt and other debris over time.

In addition to these particles, the condenser can collect falling leaves, stones, sticks, branches, and small seeds that can get stuck inside the system. It is very important to check for any of these elements daily to keep your condenser and unit properly maintained.

Faulty Run Capacitor

The primary responsibility of your condenser capacitor is to provide enough energy for the fan motors to operate successfully. If the run capacitor is in bad shape, it won’t start the motor properly. If you think that your run capacitors are not working as they should be, call your local HVAC technician for proper repair and diagnosis.

Damaged Coil

One of the worst condenser problems you will most likely encounter is a damaged coil. This could be due to several reasons, like corrosion, debris, and impact. Your HVAC technician has to address the damaged coil because it can be quite tricky to do this by yourself. You need to have the proper knowledge to fix or replace a damaged coil.


The best way to enhance your condenser’s lifespan and performance is to provide and run a periodic test. Ensure it is properly maintained or enrolled in a protection plan courtesy of your HVAC provider. A condenser is an essential component of your AC, and if it is faulty, you won’t get the benefits of a comfortable and cool living indoor space.

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