What is an Air Conditioner Condenser and How To Repair (2023)

AC Condenser Repair Guide

Understanding an Air Conditioner Condenser and How to Repair It

An air conditioner condenser is responsible for cooling down and condensing refrigerant vapor into liquid. The condenser itself contains many parts; when the unit breaks down, it typically means that one or more parts in the condenser will have to be replaced.

A working condenser is an important part of central AC, heat pumps and other split air conditioning systems. While many modern condensers can last a decade or more, they will eventually need to be repaired or replaced. Knowing when and how to fix this unit helps you stay cool with the most efficient operation.

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What Is the AC Condenser?

Every air conditioner is made up of various components. These include a compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. 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.

How a Goodman AC Condenser Works

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A Goodman air conditioner condenser, or an AC condenser from other brands such as AirQuest is responsible for converting refrigerant gas into liquid form. The compressor, which is located in the air conditioner unit, compresses the refrigerant and pushes into through the condenser. The air conditioner works just like a car's radiator and helps to remove heat from the refrigerant creating more surface area to rapidly cool the refrigerant.

What is an Air Conditioner Condenser and How To Repair (1)

After leaving the condenser, the refrigerant is a lot colder, which turns it into a liquid under the high pressure. The refrigerant is sent into the house through the line set and sprayed into the evaporator coil through a small nozzle. The pressure then drops and the refrigerant turns back into a gas. As the refrigerant goes from a liquid to a gas state, it pulls heat from the air around it, leaving the air cooler than what it was before. The refrigerant then returns to the compressor through the line set and begins the cycle again.

Common Issues with an Air Conditioner Condenser

Even though the air conditioner's condenser is a single component, it is made up of different parts. These include:

  • A motor
  • Fans
  • Tubes
  • Condenser coil
  • Circuit board
  • Compressor

When these parts fail, they might do so either together or separately. Also, the failure can happen all of a sudden or over a period of time. Below is a list of some of the most common issues that homeowners encounter with their air conditioner's condensers. In many cases, if a specific part has failed, that part can be replaced without needing to get a new unit.

What is an Air Conditioner Condenser and How To Repair (2)

Leaks

Leaks found within seals and faulty tubes are one of the reasons why your unit's condenser might fail. The condenser's tubes may become brittle over time and break, get punctured or rupture. On the other hand, after getting used for an extended period of time, seals may crack and break down. Although these parts can fail due to impact, the most common reason for failure is ongoing wear.

Dirty Components

The air conditioner condenser is usually set up outside the home. Because of this, it's not unusual for the condenser or some of the parts to get dirty over time. Usually, brush, grass and other plants will grow around the unit, which hinders the components from working effectively.

If you ever notice that your air conditioner is not cooling your home as well as it should, you should check the condenser's exterior first to ensure the inefficiency is not caused by debris and dirt.

(Video) Soldering AC Condenser to repair small Pinhole Leak

Bad Run Capacitor

The condenser's run capacitors are responsible for powering its fan motors. A bad run capacitor can be deceiving in the sense that it causes a jump, but won't actually start the motor. If you're having trouble starting the motor, chances are that the run capacitor is the issue. Run capacitors might go out suddenly or deteriorate over time.

Blockage

Over time, debris and other particles might clog up the air conditioner, leading to blockages that cause your air conditioner to fail. Not all debris comes from outside - some of it might be as a result of metal parts in the condenser flaking off. This flaking is usually due to poor maintenance or age and ultimately leads the condenser unit to self-destruct.

Bad Relay Switch

This refers to a critical component of the condenser that is responsible for switching the fan on or off when you switch the air conditioner on and off. When the fan is no longer functioning, the larger air conditioner unit no longer works effectively.

Faulty Control Board

The control board is the circuit board that facilitates communication between various parts in the condenser. A faulty control board means that there's a communication breakdown. This means that critical parts like the fan motor will not switch on or off when they should.

Burnt Motor

It's rare for the motor to go out all of a sudden. The deterioration is almost always a gradual process. Motors usually fail due to lack of proper maintenance and as a result of stress. AC condenser motor repair saves you money by replacing the motor itself with changing any other parts.

Damaged Coil

The condenser coil is one of the most critical parts in a condenser unit. A damaged condenser coil compromises the efficiency of your entire AC unit. There are a number of factors that might lead to a damaged coil, including:

  • Impact
  • Corrosion
  • Debris

How to Know When to Replace Your AC Condenser

When determining whether to replace your broken-down condenser unit or repair it, you'll need to consider the age of the equipment. An older, less efficient AC condenser may cost the same or even more to repair than to replace. A new AC condenser can be bought online, with prices starting around $800, plus installation. The cost of an AC condenser fan motor repair or coil repair might vary from $150 to $1,000.

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Between repair costs and improvements in efficiency for newer systems, you might find it better to replace the unit after a few years even when the condenser can be quickly repaired. Because newer models tend to be more efficient than older models, in the long term, it will save you more money to have a new unit than your old one.

What is an Air Conditioner Condenser and How To Repair (3)

In some cases, you won't have a choice about buying another condenser. There are two issues that, when encountered, mean you'll need a new condenser replacement:

Leaks

Even though it might sound like a small issue, a leak in your condenser will ultimately mean that you need to purchase a new unit. This is because it's not possible to replace seals or condenser tubes, making AC condenser leak repair futile even for professionals.

Blockage

If your air conditioner unit gets blocked, take it as a sign that you need to replace your condenser. Unfortunately, when a condenser gets clogged, it means you also have to replace other expensive components such as the compressor. Instead, it would be make more sense if you replaced the entire air conditioner unit.

(Video) How To Replace Air Conditioner Condenser Fan Motor

We have efficient Goodman air conditioner condensers in stock at HVACDirect.com with wholesale prices and free shipping. Let us know if you need any assistance purchasing an air conditioner condenser.

AC Condenser Repair Frequently Asked Questions

What are signs of a bad AC condenser?

The five biggest signs your AC condenser is failing are:

  1. Loud or unusual noises coming from the condenser (such as growling and clattering).
  2. Much lower cooler power than normal.
  3. Leaking noticeably more fluid then it typically does from condensation alone.
  4. Difficulty getting the condenser to start.
  5. The unit keeps tripping the circuit breaker.

How much does it cost to replace an air conditioner condenser?

Replacing the condenser in your AC system can cost anywhere from $796 to $2,800 depending on the size of the unit. This is before the cost of hiring a certified HVAC technician to install the new unit, so bear that in mind when budgeting.

Should I repair my air conditioner condenser or replace it?

(Video) Goodman Condenser Replacement - (start to finish)

When your air conditioner condenser breaks or stops working the way it should, you may be tempted to see if you can have it repaired rather than replacing it. Air conditioner condenser repair costs are typically close to replacement costs, and new condensers are often significantly more efficient than older models.

FAQs

How do you fix an AC condenser? ›

In. Then get a little AC oil. And put it on the o-ring. That's on the outside here so it seals

What is an AC condenser? ›

A condenser (or AC condenser) is the outdoor portion of an air conditioner or heat pump that either releases or collects heat, depending on the time of the year. Both split air conditioner and heat pump condensers are made of the same basic parts.

How does a condenser get damaged? ›

A condenser can fail for one of a few reasons. Pipes and seals may have deteriorated, allowing refrigerant to leak out and air to get in. The air that gets in can cause ice crystals to form, which block and damage the condenser. Metal flakes from a faulty compressor can have the same effect.

What causes air conditioner condenser to stop working? ›

Top Reasons Your AC Compressor Stopped Working

Dirty condenser coils. Blocked suction lines. Low refrigerant charge. Incorrect suction line size.

Can you repair an AC condenser coil? ›

Repairing an AC condenser costs anywhere from $150 to $600 or more. It doesn't always mean replacing the entire coil. Sometimes parts fail or simply wear out. A fix might be as simple as a new circuit breaker or a thermostat.

Can you replace AC condenser only? ›

A common question we get is if you can replace just the condenser. The short answer is yes, you can. Some technicians often do in some cases. Perhaps if you have a newer system and the damage occurred due to outside forces, such as inclement weather.

What is a condenser and how does it work? ›

A condenser is designed to transfer heat from a working fluid (e.g. water in a steam power plant) to a secondary fluid or the surrounding air. The condenser relies on the efficient heat transfer that occurs during phase changes, in this case during the condensation of a vapor into a liquid.

What does an AC condenser look like? ›

Condenser Coils - Home Cooling | HVAC Facts - YouTube

What are typical condenser problems? ›

The condenser fan can develop several issues such as a blown capacitor, electrical issues with wiring, fan motor issues, bent or loose blades, and/or worn fan belt. If any of these issues arise with the condenser fan, it will fail to cool down the coils and release the heat outside.

How long does a AC condenser last? ›

While every unit is different, and every homeowner has a different understanding of when their central air conditioner is broken beyond repair, it's fair to say that, with proper maintenance and care, you can expect a good 15 to 20 years of cooling from a new high efficiency air conditioning system.

How do you know if AC condenser is bad? ›

Be on the lookout for these 4 signs of a failing AC condenser:
  1. Significantly reduced cooling. Is your air conditioner blowing lukewarm air even though you have cranked down the thermostat settings? ...
  2. Refrigerant leaks. ...
  3. Abnormal noises. ...
  4. Electrical malfunctions.
5 Aug 2021

Where is the AC condenser located in a house? ›

Condenser Unit

The outdoor condenser is housed inside a metal cabinet with slats, called fins, along the sides to direct airflow. Condensers are typically located on a concrete pad beside your home, but may also be located on your roof.

What happens when condenser fan fails? ›

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.

Why is my AC running but not cooling? ›

If your air conditioner is running, but not lowering temperatures inside, one issue could be a blocked or clogged condenser coil. When operating correctly, the condenser fan draws air into the outdoor unit through the condenser coil to pull heat energy out of your home.

How do I find a leak in my AC condenser? ›

A technician can detect a refrigerant leak by using ultraviolet (UV) dye. An HVAC technician will send a fluorescent dye through your system to find the source of the leak. Once it circulates throughout your HVAC system, a detection lamp is used to find the leak's exact location.

How much does it cost to fix AC condenser? ›

How much will it cost to replace an AC condenser? A new condenser unit costs between $850 and $3,000, depending on the size of the air conditioning system. The total cost to replace an AC condenser is usually $1,200–$4,200, including labor and installation.

How do you know you need a new condenser? ›

The most common symptom of a bad AC condenser is hot air blowing from the air conditioning system. You may also smell a burning smell coming through the vents and if you check the AC condenser, you may also see a refrigerant leak.

How long does it take to install a new AC condenser unit? ›

On average, it takes 4-8 hours to install or replace an entire central air conditioning unit. The length of time varies depending on the size of the condenser unit, where it's being installed, the condition of the ductwork, the experience and proficiency of the HVAC technicians who are doing the job, and more.

Should I replace condenser or whole unit? ›

A well-maintained AC unit should last somewhere between 10 and 15 years. If your unit is approaching the 10- year mark or is even older, you should seriously consider replacing the entire unit. Older AC systems use R-22 refrigerant, and since January 1, 2020, the EPA has banned the import and production of this gas.

How can you tell if your AC condenser is bad? ›

Be on the lookout for these 4 signs of a failing AC condenser:
  1. Significantly reduced cooling. Is your air conditioner blowing lukewarm air even though you have cranked down the thermostat settings? ...
  2. Refrigerant leaks. ...
  3. Abnormal noises. ...
  4. Electrical malfunctions.
5 Aug 2021

What are typical condenser problems? ›

The condenser fan can develop several issues such as a blown capacitor, electrical issues with wiring, fan motor issues, bent or loose blades, and/or worn fan belt. If any of these issues arise with the condenser fan, it will fail to cool down the coils and release the heat outside.

How much is an AC condenser? ›

A new condenser unit costs between $850 and $3,000, depending on the size of the air conditioning system. The total cost to replace an AC condenser is usually $1,200–$4,200, including labor and installation.

How do I know if my AC condenser is clogged? ›

Finding And Fixing AC System Blockages - YouTube

How long should an AC condenser last? ›

While every unit is different, and every homeowner has a different understanding of when their central air conditioner is broken beyond repair, it's fair to say that, with proper maintenance and care, you can expect a good 15 to 20 years of cooling from a new high efficiency air conditioning system.

How long does a condenser last? ›

The lifespan can also be affected by how often you use the unit, how hot and humid it gets in the area you live, and whether or not the unit was sized correctly when it was purchased for your home. If you kept your air conditioner in good condition over its lifetime, expect to need a replacement in about 10-15 years.

What does an AC condenser look like? ›

Condenser Coils - Home Cooling | HVAC Facts - YouTube

What are the possible trouble and causes of condenser? ›

What Can Go Wrong?
  • Outdoor Debris: Since your condenser is located outdoors, in can very well accumulate damage from debris—lawn clippings, stones, gravel, stick, leaves. ...
  • Refrigerant Leak: As mentioned above, the refrigerant is the fluid that transfers heat from one area to another.
20 Mar 2017

Where is the condenser located in an air conditioner? ›

Your air conditioner's condenser is contained in the large, square unit outside your house. Although the whole unit is called the “condenser unit,” it contains multiple components, including the condenser tubes and fins, the compressor, a fan, and copper tubing, as well as valves and switches.

What is a blocked condenser? ›

If a condenser becomes dirty or fouled, less heat transfer can take place from the refrigerant to the surrounding ambient. Dirty or blocked condensers are one of the most frequent service problems in commercial refrigeration and summer air conditioning fields today.

How long does it take to replace an AC condenser? ›

The process of replacing your condenser unit can take between three and six hours, and many companies will charge a minimum service fee. Expect the labor for a total AC condenser unit replacement to cost between $200 and $1,500.

What is the difference between an AC compressor and condenser? ›

Air compressors are air compressors that compress air. The condenser converts the refrigerant gas into a liquid, which is then circulated throughout the A/C system to produce cold air. The condenser is in charge of converting the compressed gas from the compressor into a liquid-vapor.

Why is my AC running but not cooling? ›

If your air conditioner is running, but not lowering temperatures inside, one issue could be a blocked or clogged condenser coil. When operating correctly, the condenser fan draws air into the outdoor unit through the condenser coil to pull heat energy out of your home.

What happens when condenser coils are dirty? ›

A dirty condenser coil with have a reduced ability to transfer heat to the outside air and this can lead to a less effective cooling system. A person that is using an air conditioner that has a dirty condenser coil may find that the unit no longer provides adequate cooling to the structure.

How do you check AC condenser coils? ›

How To Clean Your Air Conditioner Condenser Coil (Step By Step)

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