How to Replace an AC Condenser Unit

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Only a certified technician can replace an AC condenser unit. This complex device is one of the most important components of your HVAC system.In most cases, a malfunction can only be corrected by replacing the entire unit with a brand new one.

How an AC Condenser Works

Inside the condenser, refrigerant is converted from a gas to liquid, cooling it so heat absorbed from inside your home is released. While the AC is running, coolant (such as Freon gas) constantly passes through the condenser, is pressurized by the compressor (which pushes it through the loop), andbecomes a gas in the evaporator. Freon, or R-22 refrigerant, is being phased out and becoming harder to find, so it’s generally more affordable to replace older systems.

Steps to Replacing an AC Condenser Unit

A technician will determine whether the unit can be repaired or must be replaced. While a motor can be replaced, most other components cannot be. But if there’s a leak or blockage in the unit, our technicians will generally recommend replacing the entire condenser.

To replace the unit, the contractor will:

  • Turn off the power supply to the AC at the breaker panel, and then unplug the unit.
  • Perform a test that determines if the problem is with the condenser or other AC component.
  • Remove and discard the coolant per the latest standards.
  • Clamp the coolant lines, disconnect them, and cut them from the condenser unit.
  • Physically remove the unit from the concrete pad and safely dispose of it.
  • Install the new one in its place, soldering the coolant lines, removing the clamps, and applying a vacuum to clear air from the lines.
  • Charge the refrigerant, which is likely to be an eco-friendly type like R-410A.
  • Restore power and test the air conditioner, examining the start up process and how well it cools the space.

Common AC Condenser Unit Issues

  • Coil Leak: A punctured or ruptured tube, broken line, or worn seal can cause the condenser to fail and is typically a sign of extensive wear. The unit must be replaced.
  • Coolant Line/Radiator Blockage: A blockage can be caused by external debris or metal particles from within the condenser.
  • Faulty Run Capacitor: A bad capacitor won’t energize the fan motor enough for it to start. A failure can be sudden or start as a gradual decline, but oftentimes this can be resolved by replacing the part.
  • Bad Relay Switch: Allows the fan to turn on and off when you control the AC; the unit (and system) can’t run effectively if the relay switch isn’t functioning. This is usually a simple repair.
  • Control Board Failure: A bad control board cannot communicate between the condenser’s parts, so components like the coil and fan motor won’t turn on or off properly. Using an exact replacement, the part can be changed without getting a new condenser.
  • Damaged Coil: A severe problem that can be caused by debris, corrosion, or impacts. Unless the coil is under warranty, replacing the unit is the best option.
  • Burnt Out Motor: If a motor slows down, your AC will run less effectively. Stress and poor maintenance most often lead to motor failure. While you can install an identical part, the AC condenser unit will need replacement if you can’t find a matchand/or there are other issues.

The unit should be replaced if it’s more than 10 to 15 years old, you’re looking for something more efficient, and/or it still uses R-22 refrigerant. Also consider the condition of your ductwork, presence of air leaks in your home, and insulation when installing a new unit, as these should be addressed so you’ll see efficiency improvements. A unit must also be sized correctly to minimize strain that will wear it out too quickly.

Contact Hays Heating, Cooling & Plumbing

Our air conditioning repair, maintenance, and replacement professionals can determine whether your AC condenser unit needs to be replaced or can be fixed. We strive to find the most cost-effective solutions for our customers, even if it means installing the latest, most energy efficient products. Special offers and financing are available. To schedule service in Phoenix, AZ, fill out our online form or call 602-641-4473 today.