The AC condenser coils located outside your home are responsible for cooling the refrigerant running through them so that it is ready to cycle back to your evaporator coils and provide cooling to your home. In between your condenser coils and your evaporator coils, you will have two refrigerant lines—one to carry the refrigerant to the evaporator unit, and one to carry it back to your condenser. If these coils are not properly insulated, they can reduce your system efficiency and drive up your cooling costs. Thus, an important part of AC maintenance is inspecting the insulation on these lines and replacing it as needed.
What Damaged Insulation Looks Like
The insulation on your coolant lines should look like a foam tube. An intact tube will be smooth in appearance and free of cracks. On the other hand, as the insulation ages, it will get brittle and prone to cracking. Insects may also see the need to carve off pieces of foam to use in their various building projects. Thus, damaged insulation will be pitted and cracked.
How to Replace Insulation
If your insulation is damaged, it will vaporize and extract heat from the outside air before it has a chance to reach your evaporator coils and cool the air in your home. Thus, you need to replace any damaged insulation in order to optimize the function of your unit. Use these steps to make the repair:
1. Use a utility knife to cut a slit in the insulation. Be careful to not puncture the line itself as any leak in the line must be repaired by a properly trained HVAC technician.
2. Carefully peel back the insulation, trying to keep it in one piece. You may need to use a scraper to remove any chunks of insulation that stick to the refrigerant lines.
3. Buy a tube of replacement insulation.
4. Your tube should have a slit on one side. Slip your coolant line through this slit until the tube covers the full length of the line.
5. Remove the protective film which protects the adhesive found on one side of the slit.
6. Press the two sides of the slit together to form a seal.
7. You may choose to wrap your tube of foam insulation with reflective tape to provide further insulation as well as to protect the foam itself from damage.
As you can see, replacing foam insulation is not difficult, but it is necessary. If you are looking to save a little bit of money, replace your insulation on your own so you don't have to call a repair expert. On the other hand, if you doubt your ability to do a quality job, call a technician like those found at Bob Bergen Heating & Air Conditioning to make sure your insulation functions correctly.