Our HVAC units consist of many components, each with its own important function. When all parts are in good working order, homeowners can enjoy cool air and comfortable living conditions all summer long. When any major component runs into problems, however, you may find yourself turning to Google and searching for “air conditioning contractors near me.” Oftentimes, gaining a better understanding of your unit and how it works can help you determine which issues you can DIY and which ones to leave for the pros. Read on to learn about your unit’s condenser, and whether a bad condenser can lead to serious repairs. 

If you’re in Reston, VA, seeking heating and air conditioning repair near me—that’s us! Give the team at Cardinal Plumbing, Heating and Air a ring at (703) 651-2056 or visit us online

What Does an A/C Condenser Do?

Your system’s condenser is the outdoor portion of your HVAC unit that’s responsible for releasing warm air removed from your space to the outdoors. In a heat pump set up, this process is reversed in the winter, and the condenser absorbs warm air instead of releasing it. 

The outdoor condenser unit houses your air conditioner’s compressor. This aptly-named component compresses refrigerant, changing it from a liquid to a gaseous state and moves it through the system. A bad condenser interrupts this crucial process and may render your unit unable to cool your home efficiently. 

Signs of a Bad A/C Condenser    

It’s clear the condenser is integral to the cooling process, but how do you know when there’s an issue? Keep an eye out for the following warning signs:

  • Your A/C does not produce cool air 
  • The unit does not cool your home efficiently
  • Your unit short cycles—a condition where it shuts off prematurely
  • Increasing or high utility costs

Several of these signs overlap with compressor problems, as well as incorrect refrigerant levels. The amount of refrigerant in your unit should always remain consistent. Insufficient levels typically indicate a refrigerant leak or a unit that was undercharged to begin with. 

When to Call Air Conditioning Contractors Near Me

If you experience any of the issues listed above, even after changing air filters, it’s time to call on the pros. Since the symptoms of a bad condenser overlap with other major concerns, it’s best to have a qualified HVAC professional diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action for your needs and budget. 

A bad condenser won’t be able to release warm air, which means your system runs the risk of overheating. Conversely, if the problem lies with, or extends to, the unit’s compressor, the cooling cycle may not work at all. Low refrigerant levels mean your air conditioner will strain to keep up with cooling demands, which can cause unnecessary wear and tear and lead to a premature system breakdown. Call a certified HVAC company right away to avoid damage to your unit. 

Avoid a Bad Condenser with HVAC Maintenance

Scheduling annual HVAC maintenance from a skilled technician will go a long way toward keeping your system running smoothly. When you book an A/C tune-up with Cardinal, one of our highly experienced HVAC pros will perform a deep cleaning of your entire unit and inspect it for loose or worn parts. This is an excellent way to save on utility bills and repair costs over time, as it will help prevent serious breakdowns and extend the lifespan of your unit. 

Aside from yearly visits from your local Reston HVAC service company, there are several maintenance tasks homeowners can perform to help protect outdoor condenser units, including:

  • Gently remove any debris — like leaves, twigs and branches — that get caught in the condenser unit.
  • Trim back nearby bushes, shrubbery and tree branches, ensuring there is at least a 2-ft clearance around the condenser unit to allow for proper airflow. 
  • Install a barrier to prevent pets from repeatedly urinating on the condenser unit, as this can lead to corrosion. 
  • Using a butterknife, gently bend back any metal fins that are bent out of place.
  • Frequently clean the area around the condenser unit, removing leaves, twigs, seeds and nuts from the immediate area. 
  • If you choose to put a protective cover on your condenser unit in the fall and winter, be sure to use light, breathable materials and preferably only use a cover with sides that come down about six inches (full coverage can trap moisture inside the unit).
  • If the condenser is covered in dirt or grime, remove the access panel and carefully hose down the fins from the inside out. 

Other simple DIY maintenance tasks homeowners can perform on their air conditioners include changing indoor air filters every 30–90 days and checking thermostat batteries and settings frequently. It’s also wise to check and clean out your unit’s condensate drain line from time to time, as a blockage here can cause water damage in your home. Our team highly recommends investing in a programmable thermostat and setting the temperature several degrees higher while you are not home. This simple practice can help homeowners save big in the long run, and it will ultimately extend the life of your unit. 

Find Air Conditioning Contractors Near Me

The team at Cardinal Plumbing, Heating and Air, is fully trained, licensed and insured to perform professional HVAC installation, repairs and maintenance. We’re proud to offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on our workmanship — that means our job isn’t done until our customers are happy. Our pro technicians always have your best interest in mind. You can rely on the team at Cardinal for upfront, transparent pricing and  honest recommendations based on your needs and budget. 

If you’re in need of professional HVAC services, don’t delay. Our team can also assist with air quality control, air duct maintenance and a wide range of plumbing services, including leak repair, water treatment and sewer line repairs. Give us a ring at (703) 651-2056 or visit us online today to learn more or to schedule services.