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Condensor fins fell off while cleaning

I've cleaned thousands of window units but today was different. With the unit in place and unplugged I sprayed the bottom of the condensor coils with a foaming-self rinsing cleaner. I only sprayed the bottom, about 2-3 inches. This was the area that was dirty. It was very dirty. Even though it was self rinsing I went ahead and rinsed with the garden hose. The fins just fell off, but only where I sprayed cleaner and applied water. I had cleaned 2 units earlier that day with the same cleaner and no problems. Was it just so really dirty that they eroded away? The A/C is operating properly now with a 20* temp change. Before is was only 11* but the bottom 2 rows of coils have no fins, plus there are no leaks.

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Thanks LPfaff. The customer was next to me and I had explained that dirt like this will cause leaks eventually and then I started rinsing and was surprised to see them fall off so easily. I've never seen that before.

They were glad it started cooling. I checked my cleaner.

I tend to doubt myself to quickly. Thanks!


LadyTech, Happy to assist,(I tend to doubt myself to quickly) we all do until you see it happen a few time's. Have a great weekend!


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LadyTech , If you were just using the same cleaner as you normally would, non/minor corrosive, you answered your own question, Bottom rows very dirty, probably hidden corrosion behind the dirt and entirely possibly the dirt was about the only thing holding fins in place. It is pretty much the same for automobiles aluminum condenser's and radiators, bottom rows deteriorate very quickly. I have seen people at the car washes think it is a good idea to wash the bugs/debri from their car's A/C condenser and all of a sudden there is all sorts of aluminum cooling fin/strips blasted out laying under their car and always the lower coarse's, while the top are strong and like new. You may want to try a finger/minor destruct test on the next unit prior to cleaning, push on the upper fins and see the force it takes to bend the fins then go to the lower coarse and see how easy it is to bend/fold them over or if brittle just rip/tear. If they bend very easily, you will have to take extra caution and tell the customer of the condensers condition. Also who knows what chemical had previously been applied or sprayed on the unit the last time it was serviced. Hope this helps.

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Thanks for your great break down, I just serviced a friends unit and noticed the corroded fins with no physical damage and was boggling my mind of what would react with Al to allow it to corrode in such a place i.e. pesticides/weed killers, cleaners used that aren’t made for coil cleaning purpose. It’s been a while since Chem but I was certain that AL is a pretty inert metal as far as metals go, (doesn’t technically oxidize, etc).

Thanks for the response


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LadyTech sarà eternamente grato.
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