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Understanding Why An AC Condenser Needs To Be Level

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If you want to have a new central air conditioning system installed, then you will very likely have a condenser unit placed just outside your house. This is the case if you want a split-unit system. The main cooling unit that sits outside is called the condenser. This box-shaped device is quite heavy, and your HVAC professional may need to investigate your property to find the perfect space for the unit. In particular, a flat and level area is needed. Keep reading to understand why this is important and also what a professional will do if a level area cannot be found.

Why Does The Condenser Need To Be Level?

The air conditioner condenser contains many different parts and pieces. Many of these pieces are quite heavy and a condenser can weigh several hundred pounds. The weight of the unit is mostly caused by the copper coil that runs along one or several sides of the AC unit. Copper is quite dense and weighs about 559 pounds per square foot. While only a fraction of this amount of copper is held inside the condenser, a little bit of the metal can add up to a lot of weight. This weight causes the side of the unit where the condenser coil is located to be heavy. If the unit is not level, then this uneven weight can cause the unit to sink into the ground. The unit can then tip or rip free from the coolant line that feeds into your home.

Also, if the condenser is not level, then the air conditioner will not work correctly. Specifically, the pump may not work the way it is supposed to. The condenser pump contains some oil that travels with the cooling fluid and then redeposits itself back into the pump. This helps to keep the device well lubricated. Sometimes the oil can separate from the coolant and pool in one area of the condenser. For example, a good deal of the oil can end up in the condenser coil. This is the case if the unit were tipped towards the coil. When this happens, the pump no longer has the lubrication it needs. The result is a pump that can wear out more quickly and also overheat. 

One of the only ways to make sure that the condenser oil stays moves smoothly and mostly deposits in the compressor is to keep the unit upright and level. 

What Happens If A Level Surface Cannot Be Found?

If for some reason a good level surface cannot be found on the exterior of your home, then one will need to be created. This process will depend on the type of ground that is noted. For example, if the ground near your foundation is wet, soft, or unstable, then a layer of gravel may be needed. Crushed stone may be used. This stone is the same type that is commonly spread to create foundations for driveways and other large and heavy types of construction projects. 

If your soil is already rocky or contains a great deal of clay, then it may be stable enough to retain the weight of the air condition without it sinking. The dirt may be leveled by hand, and a layer of pea gravel may be added.

Once the ground has been attended to, your HVAC professional will work with you to create or secure a pad to place your condenser on. This pad will be the flat base that will hold the condenser. A concrete one can be created and built up above the ground. Rubber, polyurethane, plastic, and preformed concrete or fiberglass pads can be used as well. You may note that the pad is wider and longer than the AC unit. This is wise to make sure that weight is evenly distributed over a large area. Sinking and leveling issues will then be less likely. However, you should occasionally place a level on top of the unit to make sure that it does not shift over time.