Air Conditioner Repair: Bent Cooling Fins

An AC unit.
  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-250
What You'll Need
Fin comb
Needle nose pliers
Clean rag

When it comes to air conditioner repair, some people will automatically call the repairman. This can amount to some costly bills. In the meantime, you could have easily done your own air conditioner repair and saved yourself some money. While some repairs do require a technician, there are many you can do yourself.

In order to keep your air conditioner cooling efficiently, it must run correctly. This means that if there is anything wrong with the air conditioner, it will not work properly and will freeze up after a short time. One of these repairs is with bent cooling fins. We have all seen these paper-thin pieces of metal alongside the air conditioner. These should be straight, but can be bent when installing the unit in the window. Here is how you should repair the bent cooling fins.

Step 1 - Unplug Air Conditioner

Before doing any air conditioner repair you should make sure that the air conditioning unit is unplugged. If you are going to repair a split air conditioner, or a central air unit, then turn the power off at the breaker. Working on an air conditioner when the power comes on can lead to serious injury. It is safer to make sure there is no power going to the unit at all.

Step 2 - Remove from Housing

To get at the cooling fins you will need to remove the air conditioner from the housing it is in. This requires removing a few screws on the front of the unit. Carefully pry off the face of the air conditioner and unscrew the small screws along the side. Do not forget to unscrew the screw for the ground wire before sliding out the air conditioner.

In a central air conditioning unit, you just need to remove the outer side cage located on the condenser. Once you do this you have direct access to the fins.

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Step 3 - Vacuum Fins

Once you have access to the fins, use a vacuum cleaner to clean out the dirt and debris. After you fix the bent cooling fins, if they are still dirty it will still cause problems with the air conditioner.

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Step 4 - Run Comb through Good Fins

Most fin combs have a few different settings that they can be adjusted to. This is because there are different sizes of cooling fins. Run the fin comb through the cooling fins that are not bent to select the proper fin spacing.

Step 5 - Repair Bent Fins

Once you have the right spacing for the comb, gently run it over the bent fins. Start at the bottom and run it straight up. This will straighten them. If you do not have a fin comb, then you can use needle nose pliers, but be careful not to break the fins off.

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Step 6 - Replace Air Conditioner

After your air conditioner repair job, you can replace the unit back into the housing. Secure it with the screws and connect the ground wire. Plug the unit back in and start cooling off your room again.

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