Installing a whole new central air system can cost as much as $7,000. With repair prices being so high, it's understandable that many homeowners panic when their AC system begins to fail. While failures can happen at any point in the system, it is often the condenser equipment that is exceptionally costly to repair. When issues begin to develop in your compressor unit, it can feel as though spending thousands to replace the whole assembly is your only option. Luckily, failing units can often be replaced.
What Is Your Condenser?
Of course, knowing that your condenser is repairable doesn't do you much good if you don't know what a condenser is in the first place. Terminology can vary a bit from region to region, but your condenser is the big AC component located outside of your home. Many people commonly refer to the condenser as the "outdoor unit."
This unit is so expensive to replace because it contains much of your AC system's vital equipment. In addition to housing the compressor, it also includes the condenser coils that release your home's heat into the atmosphere, as well as the electronics that allow the whole system to work. Nearly all outdoor units also include a fan to keep the compressor cool and move warm air away from the condenser coils.
Recognizing Condenser Problems
There are four common failure points in most condenser units:
- The compressor
- The condenser coils
- The condenser capacitor
- The outdoor blower
Of these common problems, the first is usually considered a terminal condition. Compressors are expensive to replace and repair, so it is often more cost-effective to dump the old unit. This is not true in all cases, so consulting with a professional first is always a good idea. Condenser coils are a close second in cost, although it is often worth repairing damaged coils on a unit that is otherwise relatively new and in good condition.
Fortunately, capacitor and blower issues are common as well, and both of these problems are reasonably cheap fixes. Capacitor problems usually start with higher electricity bills, but they can eventually prevent the compressor from functioning at all. Failing blower motors will cause the system to overheat, resulting in warmer air and a compressor that may cycle more frequently to save itself from overheating.
Evaluating Your Options
If you know that an AC problem lies within the condenser unit, then choosing whether to repair your current unit or replace it with a new one is not always easy. Outdoor units typically last for at least a decade, so it is often a good idea to focus on repairing any unit that is less than five years old. The closer your unit is to the end of its life span, however, the more appealing that replacement can be. Ask your contractor to provide both repair and replacement estimates so that you can make an informed decision. Whichever option you decide to take, always be sure to have your system serviced only by experienced professionals.
Call an air conditioning repair professional for more information.