It’s Time for Spring Cleaning! Don’t Forget About Your AC Condenser

While we always recommend regular air conditioner tune-ups and service to keep your condenser in tip-top shape, there are a few things you can do yourself to make sure everything is nice and clean. We sat down with Bell Brothers’ own technician, Omar, to give us the scoop on proper condenser care for your Bay Area home! He tells us what to do and more importantly, what not to do.

Coil Cleaner — Leave It to the Pros

Like any cleaning product, there are a variety of coil cleaners available. Some cleaners are more abrasive than others, and when they’re not diluted adequately, they cause more harm than good.

The Bell Brothers technicians prepare a 10-to-1 ratio, depending on which solvent we’re using, and whether it’s a biodegradable solution. When we are faced with 110-degree weather, as can often happen in a Sacramento summer, don’t spray the concentrate on the coils.

The cleaning solvents are heavily acidic and, if not applied properly, will ruin the protective coating the condenser comes with from the factory. Oftentimes, you’ll find the condenser has rusted or eroded. Most homeowners don’t understand why, but we know to blame it on the coil cleaner.

Think of someone wanting to detail their car at home, as opposed to hiring a professional. They think wax can be applied in large amounts when it’s only supposed to be a coating. If you apply more than a light coat, or if you apply in direct sunlight rather than in the shade, you do far more harm than good.

Your condenser is the same! Unless you’re familiar with the finer points of AC maintenance, you may want to consult a technician to extend the life of your system.

Don’t Hose Down the Condenser

Dust, pollen, and other gifts from mother nature are introduced to your condenser by the elements native to the area where you live. Pollen carries an oily residue. Like most parts of Sacramento and the Bay Area, you’re in an area with large amounts of pollen floating around.

By design, when the fan turns on, your condenser breathes through the sides and ingests a high volume of air into the coils. Many homeowners incorrectly assume they can just hose it down and be fine.

While it appears cleaner on the outside, unfortunately, this only serves to push the pollen and debris further into the condenser, causing a blockage. At Bell Brothers, we always remove the top to clean. Hosing from the inside out pushes any dirt and debris out from the inside.

Landscape Around Your Condenser

Most AC units aren’t very attractive. This leads many homeowners to give them a little curb appeal and add aesthetically pleasing landscaping around the condenser. While this solves one problem, if you don’t execute your landscaping properly, it could cause another problem.

Keep Your Distance

Properly designed landscaping can actually make your air conditioner work more efficiently. Plants and décor that are too close to the condenser can obstruct or choke the airflow around your machine. This creates higher electric bills and could result in costly repairs.

Providing shade and keeping it out of direct sunlight helps dissipate the heat that your AC removes from your home. This prevents the unit from having to work harder and keeps your electric bill down.

A minimum of two to three feet on all sides of your condenser and no less than five feet above is the industry-recommended space. (Check your owner’s manual for your specific model.) This will also give technicians sufficient space to perform an air conditioner tune-up or maintenance.

What to Plant Around Your Condenser

Design the space around your AC unit with plants that grow upwards rather than out. Outward growing plants can overtake the space and crowd your system.

Research at what rate your plants will grow; you don’t want to have a jungle around your machine next year. Keep your techs in mind! Avoid anything with thorns or sharp leaves.

Watch out for bees! They often think condenser units make for a great hive. Choose low pollination plants that won’t entice pollinators to make their home.

Instead of ground plants, use planter boxes or decorative fencing. This will still give your eyes relief without jeopardizing the life of your AC system.

Don’t take matters into your own hands if you’re not sure how. The last thing you want during our California summer is to have your AC system stop working, so give the experts at Bell Brothers a call!