How to Replace a Central Air Conditioner Condenser

What You'll Need
New Compressor
Variety of Hand Tools
Electrical Testing Equipment

The condenser in a central air conditioner is one of two main components that produces cold air, which is then routed through the duct system and delivered to the interior of the home. Replacing the air conditioner condenser is a job for a trained and certified technician, not the average do-it-yourselfer. The condenser is not simply a bolted-in part that can easily be swapped out, but is integrated throughout the cooling system. Additionally, the cooling agent used (such as freon gas) is an element that will need to be captured and properly disposed of due to environmental concerns. Here you will find information on the common steps that are followed and the materials used in the replacement of an air conditioner compressor replacement.

Step 1 - Disconnect Power Supply

The first step, as with any project that involves electricity, will be to disconnect the power supply or turn it off at the breaker. Many central air conditioning units have their own 220 breaker. On others, the breaker will be in the breaker panel for the rest of the home.

Step 2 - Test the Condenser

Testing the condenser will indicate if the problem is actually with the condenser, or with another component of the air conditioning unit. It will likely also be determined at this point if the condenser needs to be replaced with a newer model that is compatible with a newer type of coolant.

Step 3 - Remove the Condenser

Once it has been confirmed that the problem with the air conditioning unit is in fact the condenser, it needs to be removed. The coolant lines will be clamped and cut, followed by the removal of the air conditioner condenser.

Step 4 - Replace the Condenser

The new condenser is installed in place of the old one. The coolant lines will be reconnected with the condenser, usually with silver soldering. The clamps are removed and a vacuum is put on the system to remove any air from the lines and make sure coolant is at the proper levels. If it is not, the coolant may be replaced or added to (which is referred to as been charged or recharged). If a different type of condenser was needed due to using an obsolete type of coolant, other components such as controls and/or coils may also need to be replaced, but components such as ducts and blower will likely not need to be replaced.

Step 5 - Testing the Air Conditioner

Once all of the above steps have been completed, the air conditioning system will need to be tested. The power supply needs to be restored, and the system turned on by setting the thermostat in the home to "cool" and lowering the desired temperature on the thermostat.This should initiate the air conditioner to start up. If it does not come on, additional testing of other components may be required.