AC Condenser Trouble: Try These DIY Fixes

Most homeowners consider having a functioning central air conditioning system to be an essential part of their family's comfort during the summer months. Unfortunately, it seems like air conditioners have a habit of breaking down just when you need them most. Often the trouble is with the condenser, which is the large outdoor unit of your central air conditioning equipment. This article looks at some common issues that prevent condensers from working properly and how you can address the various problems.

Dirt and Debris

A frequently seen issue with condensers is dirt or debris on the exterior of the unit interfering with its performance. Dirt or debris, such as leaves or yard waste, can make it more difficult for the unit to cool the house, which can increase your energy bills. To fix the problem, simply remove any dirt with a wet rag and pick off any debris, such as twigs or dead leaves, by hand.

One issue related to dirt and debris that some homeowners overlook is having plants, such as bushes and shrubs, too close to the condenser. The leaves of the plants can easily get onto the condenser and interfere with its operation. To avoid this problem, keep all plants at least several feet away from the condenser unit.


The condenser coils circle the interior of the unit and release hot air from the inside of your house to the outdoors. When the coils get dirty and become clogged, the condenser will function less efficiently.

To clean the coils, turn off the power to the unit and place a commercial coil cleaning solution in a sprayer according to the instructions on the cleaner label. Remove the condenser's exterior grille, then spray the solution over the coils. Wait for several minutes until the cleaning solution turns to foam. Finally, rinse off the cleaner with a garden hose.

Run Capacitor

Another reason for a condenser failing to work is a bad run capacitor. This is an electrical storage device that helps the condenser motor run at an optimal level. If it goes bad, you can typically replace it fairly easily as long as you're handy with tools. Just make certain that you turn off power to the condenser before getting started and safely discharge any remaining electricity from the old capacitor before removing it.

If you are not able to repair these or other ac condenser issues on your own, contact a professional air conditioner repair firm in your town.