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Your AC Is Wasting $$$ Because of This Hard‑to‑Spot Issue

The next time you’re tending to your backyard lawn, take a look at your AC condenser (the “outside” unit).

Check out the tiny aluminum “fins” that cover the outside of your outdoor unit. Are the majority of those fins heavily bent or damaged?

If you see a good amount of bent or damaged fins, your AC’s efficiency may be taking a hit, which means:

  • Higher energy bills
  • Lower comfort

To be fair, a few bent fins here and there is completely fine and won’t impact your AC’s performance. We usually don’t see problems unless roughly 30% to 50% of the fins are bent/damaged.

Think you have too many bent fins? We’ll show you how you can straighten those bent fins. First, though, let’s take a quick look at why bent fins are so costly in the first place.

Why bent condenser fins = wasted money

Your AC condenser fins’ job is to help release heat that your AC worked hard to absorb from inside your home.

Your air conditioner doesn’t actually “create” cool air. Instead, it works like a sponge— it uses a special substance called refrigerant to absorb heat from inside your home and dump that heat outside.

Your condenser fins are there to speed up that “heat dumping” process. The fins soak up all of the heat that was collected from your home. Then, a large fan blows cool air over the hot fins to push the heat into the outdoor air.

But if a bunch of those fins are bent (like in the image below), they prevent heat from being pushed out of the condenser. This makes your AC work harder and longer to cool off your home.

A condenser with a bent fin

Bent fins blocking airflow.

In this case, the homeowner shouldn’t see any AC problems since the area of bent fins is so small but remember—the more bent fins, the more money you’re wasting.

Translation? A LOT of bent condenser fins mean you spend more money and get less comfort.

How to fix bent condenser fins

Unfortunately, condenser fins are very delicate. In other words, a lot of things can bend/harm condenser fins, including:

  • Weed whacking
  • Pressure washing
  • Surrounding foliage
  • Gardeners/landscapers
  • Twigs, hail, dirt, etc. picked up during summer storms
  • Dog urine (this is such a common problem, we wrote a blog about it)

The good news is that bent fins are relatively easy (and cheap) to fix—just buy a condenser fin “comb” like this one. Or, ask your AC technician to comb them out for you.

But remember this: a fin comb can fix bent fins but not damaged fins. If your fins are badly damaged, like these fins, then you will want to ask a professional for a more suitable solution.

2 tips to prevent damaged condenser fins

To prevent damaging your condenser fins, consider:

1. Building a protective gate/fence around the outdoor unit.

This prevents pets, debris and gardening activities from damaging the fins. But remember, the main job of your outside unit is to dump heat outside. That said, make sure the fence is 3–5 feet from the outside unit to give it proper “breathing room” to disperse heat.

2. Getting your AC maintained...every year

During one of George Brazil’s maintenance visits, our techs will inspect your condenser fins for any problems.

When inspecting the outdoor unit, if our techs see:

  • Bent fins, they straighten them out right then and there
  • The potential for future damage (i.e. surrounding foliage that’s growing too close to the unit), they’ll bring the issue up and advise you on how to prevent fin damage

Dirt build-up on the fins, they clean the outside unit to increase the AC’s efficiency

An AC maintenance visit doesn’t just prevent/fix bent fins, either. Our techs follow a thorough, 100-point maintenance checklist to keep your AC efficient, your energy bills low, and your AC warranty valid.

Need AC maintenance? Schedule now to get better selections...

Most homeowners wait until summer to schedule their AC maintenance (that’s right around the corner).

To avoid the rush, we suggest you schedule now. Not only will you have a better chance of securing the day/time that works best for you, you’ll also get to enjoy an extra month of lower energy bills!

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