Friday, October 22nd, 2010

by Travis Howard, published October 2010

The condenser coil and sometimes referred to as the outdoor coil releases heat to the outdoor air that it has removed from the home.  For heat pumps in the heating season, the coil picks up heat from the outdoor air and transfers it to the home.  This is performed by pulling air through the coil.

Coil fins that are struck by hail or other objects are bent and damaged reducing and changing the airflow.  This airflow reduction and change inhibits the ability to transfer heat from the house to the outdoor air.  This not only raises your energy consumption and reduces efficiency it shortens the life of the unit.

Insurances companies have been telling homeowners to have the coil fins combed out to straighten them.  I have been reading some testing agencies reports regarding hail damage effects on air conditioner performance.  While the opinions and findings vary not one agency would commit to stating that an air conditioner can be returned to 100% performance, capacity and efficiency.  The equipment will never have the same cooling, efficiency and life expectancy it had before the damage occurred.

For some equipment, manufacture warranty can still be in effect.  Manufacturers will not warranty a failed component, such as a compressor, if any possibility exist that it failed due to a damaged coil that was not returned to original manufactures specifications.

Combing out damaged condenser coil fins on equipment under manufacture warranty is not recommended.  The minimum acceptable restoration is complete coil replacement.  Combing out damaged condenser coil fins on equipment, not under manufacture warranty, could be performed with the understanding that the equipment capacity, performance, efficiency  and remaining life expectancy have been compromised.

During my research, I came across an article by Dan Jape of Reliable Heating and Air, in which he said, “This would be similar to your insurance company telling you to beat out the damaged fender in your car with a hammer after a wreck and insisting you be happy with the results”.

Hail damaged air conditioners and heat pumps need to be looked at, not as a cosmetic problem, but rather as a long-term performance and capacity problem.  Insist that your insurance company replace your equipment or fix it with a manufactures coil.


Travis Howard

Assistant Service Manager


[email protected]