It’s important to keep your outdoor AC condenser unit level for optimal performance and longevity.
Whether installed with the original construction, or by a local HVAC contractor, when your home’s outside AC condenser was originally installed, it should have been leveled by the installer. Sometimes, as the ground around your hoe settles, it can become uneven, causing the pad beneath your Air Conditioner to lose its level.
To function at their best, air conditioners and heat pumps must be positioned on level ground. AC equipment can malfunction or wear out prematurely if the ground beneath them shifts or tilts more than a few degrees.
Why Is a Level AC Unit Important?
When an air conditioner condenser is out of level, that puts excess stress on the unit. The fan motor revolves at high speeds, and a tilted motor can eventually be damaged by running at a tile.
When it IS level, refrigerant and oil can move through the tubing, effectively delivering the proper lubrication throughout the entire unit. When the unit isn’t level, the oil and refrigerant can become trapped in parts of the tubing, preventing the AC equipment from being properly lubricated. A severely leaning unit can cause liquid to be released into the compressor unevenly, which can cause problems.
Vibration is another source of stress on the AC unit when it’s out of level. If the air conditioner isn’t on level ground, it will vibrate excessively while running. A constant unwanted vibration because the system is out of balance puts stress on every moving component. The result? Premature failure.
Excess vibration can also cause tubing connections to vibrate and become loose, resulting in loss of expensive refrigerant. Vibrations can also potentially cause the tubing to kink. We definitely want to avoid any excess vibration from the AC unit being out of balance.
The air conditioner units condenser houses many different parts, many of which are quite heavy. A condenser can weigh several hundred pounds due to the copper coil that runs along one or more sides of the AC unit. Copper weight about 550 pounds per square foot. Only a fraction of this amount of copper in inside the condenser, the weight of a unit can add up quickly. The coil’s weight causes the side of the unit to be on the heavy side; if the AC unit isn’t level, the uneven weight can cause the unit to sink into the ground. It’s possible for the unit to tip or tear itself free from the coolant line that runs into your home.
If the condenser is not level, then the air conditioner will have trouble working correctly. The pump inside the unit may not work the way it’s supposed to. The condenser pump contains some oil in the refrigerant that moves within the system, then returns to the pump. It’s possible for the oil to separate from the coolant and pool in one area of the condenser. When that happens the pump no longer has the lubrication it needs to function, causing a premature failure. It can wear out and overheat.
The one way to ensure the condenser oil is moving smoothing throughout the unit and not collecting in the compressor is to keep the unit level.
How to Check if Your AC Unit is Level
First, you can just visually inspect the air conditioner. Does the concrete pad before the unit look solid, or does it appear to slope and be cracked? If your AC unit has legs, check for rust and bends, making sure they aren’t wobbly. Is the entire unit noticeably leaning or tilted?
Checking to ensure the AC equipment is level is impossible without a level tool. You can pick up an inexpensive carpenter’s bubble level at your local big box store. It’s okay if the outdoor AC unit is a few degrees off level, but more than that, and you’re asking for trouble. Generally, the bubble should be within the two guides on the level tool. If that’s the case, then your unit is level enough. You should check level in both directions on the top of the unit, and if the unit has a vertical side, check level there as well. Checking from multiple locations ensures the unit is actually completely level.
Leveling Your AC Condenser is NOT a DIY Job
We recommend you do not attempt to level the outdoor unit on your own. If you try to move or level the AC unit yourself, you risk bending the coolant lines, causing a leak, and allowing refrigerant to escape into the atmosphere. Even a small kink in the copper tubing can cause catastrophe in your AC equipment.
The leveling process is not a simple, one-size-fits-all process. The required fix depends on the soil content and quality, the degree of the tilt of the unit, what caused it to tilt, and more. It may require temporarily lifting the unit and replacing the concrete pad with a new one, after leveling the soil underneath.
It’s best to allow the professionals at Dor-Mar Heating and Air Conditioning to get your air conditioning unit level again.
Trust the Air Conditioning Professionals at Dor-Mar
As a knowledgeable homeowner, you can perform some basic routine maintenance tasks yourself (like changing filters often). Read more about that here. But when it comes to doing a thorough air conditioning tune-up, it’s a job best left to the pros.
There are a number of things that can go wrong if an inexperienced homeowner attempts to do their own AC maintenance or repairs. One of the simplest parts of the tune-up is cleaning the condenser, but we highly recommend leaving that task to the pros… you can inadvertently damage the delicate fins or the coils inside the system. Damaged or bent fins could lower the system’s performance, and there is the chance of an electric shock for someone that doesn’t know their way around the guts of an AC unit.
Finally, having a professional HVAC technician performing the tune-up allows us to see little issues than an uneducated consumer might miss. When you have your air conditioning equipment put through the paces with a tune-up and check out by one of our licensed, certified professional technicians, you can rest assured the system will perform optimally and serve your air conditioning needs longer.
About Dor-Mar Heating & Air Conditioning
In continuous operation since 1962, our expertise goes beyond just the mechanicals of your HVAC system. We’re pretty handy when it comes to ductwork and system-wide maintenance as well. For top-notch service keeping your home’s heating and cooling system clean and your family breathing clean, filtered air, contact Dor-Mar today.
Our team offers a wide array of routine maintenance and emergency services for your heating and cooling system, allowing your family to breathe fresh, safe, clean air and be comfortable year-round. We also offer a number of add-ons to your HVAC equipment that can improve your home’s IAQ, such as electrostatic air filters, whole-house humidifiers, duct cleaning, Ultraviolet-C lighting systems, and more.
Schedule an appointment for HVAC system troubleshooting or maintenance with us today by using our online contact form, or call one of our seven neighborhood offices listed below. We pride ourselves on our customer-focused service, and our reviews show it.
Dor-Mar…Your Climate Hero!
*Please note: neither the Centers for Disease Control(CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), nor the manufacturer of our UV-C Devices have officially announced whether UV-C kills the current strain of Corona Virus (COVID-19). We urge you to err on the side of caution until we have a definitive answer, and take other measures to prevent the acquisition or spread of this virus.