If the condensing unit for your central cooling system sits on the ground, doing yard work near it could reduce its efficiency. The condenser contains the fins and condensing coil that dissipate the heat that the refrigerant pulls out of your home. Any dirt and damage to these coils slows its ability to cool the refrigerant, which drives up cooling costs.
- Lawn mowing. Cutting the grass around the outdoor condenser without a bag to catch the clippings can deposit small bits of grass on the fins and coils. Unless they’re removed, they’ll slow the cooling process.
- String trimming weeds. The best way to avoid flying leaves and clippings around the condenser is to hand-pull the weeds or spray the weeds with herbicides while they’re still small.
- Leaf blowing. If the leaf blower is strong enough, it could send sticks and twigs flying into the condenser’s coils. It’s a good idea to point the blower away from the condenser, or rake the immediate area instead of blowing it. Some central air conditioners drain the condensation they create outdoors using a drainpipe. It’s not uncommon when doing yard work for landscaping debris to blow into the end of the pipe that can block the water flowing from it.
- Irrigation. Watering the yard doesn’t directly harm the condenser, but any over spray can if it hits the condenser. Besides the mineral deposits that can form on the fins and coil, continued exposure to water or moisture might cause rust on the condenser.
- One of the best ways to prevent clippings from sticking to the condenser is to xeriscape around the condensing unit. This type of landscape uses drought-tolerant plants that don’t shed many leaves and use a rock or crushed gravel ground cover.
- Throwing a tarp over the condenser when you’re working around it will prevent some of the debris from lodging inside the fins and coils or bending them.
These tips will help you prevent damage to your condenser when doing yard work. To learn more about increasing cooling efficiency, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing HVAC services for Portland-area homeowners.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).