Is the condenser in your central air conditioner or window air conditioner overheating? Maybe they are and there is a problem or maybe not. The first thing to remember is that the main purpose of the air conditioning unit is to remove heat from the space they are cooling. This means that the heat will come from the discharge of the unit. How much is normal and how do you know what is normal?
Heat is a normal byproduct of cooling. The cooling process of any space will require the refrigerant to cool down and excess heat to be discharged to the outside. In the case of central air conditioning, this is done through the condenser fan and is usually discharged upwards. If the condenser coil is hot and the fan does not work, it is very likely that the fan motor has failed. Check for power on the wires going to the motor. If the motor is receiving power (110V), it probably needs to be replaced. The most common problem with condenser fan motors is motor bearing failure. This will make the fan spin hard and then it won’t work.
If the condenser fan motor is running and very little air seems to be coming out of the fan, the coil may be clogged with debris. I have written an article on condenser coil cleaning for information on how to fix that problem. A dirty condenser coil will kill the efficiency of the unit and will also make the compressor work a lot harder which will also kill it faster.
In window air conditioners, the coil can also overheat. If the fan fails on them you won’t have discharge air inside either. This is because the same dual shaft motor drives both the indoor fan and the condenser fan. Most of the time, the problem with overheating in window air conditioners is due to a dirty outdoor coil.
This outer coil can be cleaned, but the air conditioner must be removed from the window to do so. You should also be careful when cleaning window units not to get anything wet that fails due to water. If you can remove the drive from the outer chassis, do so before attempting to clean it. Make sure it is completely dry before reinstalling and applying power to the unit.
As you can see, the most common cause of overheating with any air conditioning unit is lack of maintenance on the unit. Always make sure to keep your air conditioning unit thoroughly cleaned for best performance. Make regular cleanings a practice you do faithfully every year. In very dirty places, you may need to clean the unit more often. Lastly, remember that the unit will give off heat when it is running. Don’t mistake that heat for a heat problem. When an air conditioner is running, it will appear to be very hot in places. This heat discharge is the normal operation of the unit.