Before we get into all that, let’s be honest – how many among us have given much thought to the topic of our AC’s condenser fins, much less wonder whether or not they are in proper working order? As far as home maintenance goes, inspecting and servicing your air conditioning unit may be pretty low on the project list – but you should know that neglecting to complete some pretty basic visual inspection and upkeep may mean you’ve been paying too much to cool your home; all due to a common issue that plagues millions of AC units every year: bent fins.
Condenser fins share the unfortunate distinction of being one of your air conditioner’s most important elements while also being one of its most fragile – making them arguably among the most important elements that you’ll need to keep an eye on.
How Bent Condenser Fins Cost You Money
Think back to last year’s dog days of summer; how well did you prepare your air conditioner for the trying months that lay ahead? Shockingly, many homeowners fail to take the necessary steps to protect their unit from the year’s most inhospitable weather.
If for one reason or another you find yourself as part of this camp, you might notice that this year, when the summer heat is at its most unbearable, your air conditioner may not be delivering the same kind of cooling power that it once did. That’s because condenser fins play a vital role in the system’s air intake, and consequently, effective heat exchange. When the system’s airflow is compromised, it means that the system has to work harder to keep the indoor environment at the desired temperature and that invariably translates into a higher than expected hydro bill.
You’ll be pleased to know that setting a bent condenser fin right is a simple, no nonsense project that any homeowner can take on.
The Quick and Easy Guide to Repairing Bent Condenser Fins
Thankfully, this is one job you can get done that won’t involve an expensive trip to the tool rental counter, nor will you have to force a friend or neighbour to sacrifice a swath of their Saturday to lend you a hand. In most cases, all you will need to get your AC unit drawing air at maximum efficiency will be a condenser fin comb.
Generally speaking, a fin comb will set you back (at most) twenty dollars, and they can be found at just about any hardware store. You can even find one that has multiple spacer sizes in the event you decide to upgrade to a larger unit, or you know someone else that has bent fins in need of straightening.
How Do They Get Damaged in the First Place?
While the fins are made of metal, they are made of very thin metal. As a result, they are prone to becoming damaged from a variety of different sources.
One of the most common ways air conditioning fins can become damaged is by failing to properly secure the unit for the winter. Air conditioners tend to be sold with a protective grate that covers the top of the unit, but this grate does not offer comprehensive protection. Sure, it will keep large debris from damaging the unit’s vulnerable interior, but will provide little protection when it comes to hail, freezing rain, and punishing winds. When the summer heat begins to wane secure your air conditioner with a tarp or other waterproof covering to ensure it will be protected from the elements until it is called upon again.
Believe it or not, another way condenser fins get damaged is actually during maintenance. Come spring, many homeowners bring out the power washer to remove the vestiges of winter from their property, spraying windows, siding, and porches.
Eventually, their attention turns to the air conditioning unit, which has been sitting dormant for months. As a rule, high-pressure water and condenser fins don’t mix. While good intentioned, taking a pressure washer to your air conditioner can warp the fins and drastically impair airflow. If you want to spruce up your air conditioner, consider doing so with a vacuum cleaner or a canister of compressed air (like the kind you would use to remove dust from your electronics) – it just might save you an expensive air conditioner service call, unless you rent to own.