The piece you probably think of as your “air conditioner” is actually known as the condenser. It’s the machine outside of your home that turns on and off and makes the noise that might scare your dog occasionally. But what does the condenser actually do? Here’s the answer.
What is it?
A condenser, along with the compressor, turns certain chemicals from a gas to a liquid by cooling it. This process happens over and over again in order to cool the home.
How does it work?
The condenser (in conjunction with the compressor) primarily works with a substance called refrigerant. The compressor turns that refrigerant, typically Freon, into a liquid. That liquid begins to travel through the condenser coils, and eventually the heat is able to escape. From this point, the liquid heads to a different part of the air conditioning unit (the evaporator) as a highly pressurized gas that is now cooler.
Why is it important?
A dirty or blocked condenser will affect your air conditioning system’s efficiency. This heat transfer process from the refrigerant to the surrounding air can’t happen as smoothly and efficiently as it should when the condenser is dirty. In fact, some of the most common AC repair calls are because the condenser isn’t working properly. You may even have a situation where the cooled liquid that comes out of the condenser isn’t cool enough – which means the air won’t be as conditioned when it reaches your home.
Most homeowners will want their condenser on the east side of the home. That means will be in the shade during the hottest part of the day. That keeps the unit cooler and condensing pressures down. You also want to avoid having your condenser under an overhang that could block the fan.