Whether you’re interested in making the most of your existing AC unit or you want to install a new one, it’s important to ensure that it’s level. The AC system is usually installed on a concrete pad and in most cases, this is sufficient for the lifespan of the unit. But, there are potential problems, the concrete pad can crack, sink or shift which causes the AC unit to move. This can lead to a lack of energy efficiency, frequent breakdowns and an earlier than expected replacement. In this article, we will explore this topic in more detail to help you make informed decisions.

3 Reasons for a Level AC Unit

Let’s take a look at three reasons why you need a level outside AC unit in more detail:

1.   A Smooth Running Compressor

Many AC unit boxes have a warning sticker or a printed instruction to keep the unit upright and not run it on the side. This is to ensure that the oil in the unit is kept level so that it won’t run into the refrigerant lines or pool in other areas. Inside the AC system, there is a heat pump. The refrigerant is circulated to absorb heat in the home and release it outdoors. During this process, the refrigerant will change from a liquid to a gas and back to a liquid state. This process can work in reverse to heat the home too and for heating and cooling the compressor is required to keep the refrigerant under pressure.

The compressor unit is a motor and just like the engine in your car, it requires oil to function smoothly. When the AC condenser unit is not level, this means that the compressor is not level and this can prevent proper lubrication. This can create problems, the compressor may be damaged because the moving parts are grinding against each other. When the lubrication is interrupted, there can be overheating issues and this reduces the energy efficiency.

Another problem is the potential for mixing oil into the refrigerant which will degrade the performance of the entire AC system. The compressor must be level to deposit the oil where it’s required and to prevent oil pooling in the coils and lines. Uneven distribution can create an oil shortage in the compressor which degrades the heat transfer properties and it causes overheating that leads to damage.

2.   Avoiding Water Draining Problems

When the outside AC unit is not level, it can lead to water draining problems. The tilt angle can prevent the draining of water from the drain pan and the water will pool in other locations. The water can lead to mold growth inside the unit and it may cause corrosion problems. Water in the AC unit can ultimately lead to coil damage, degraded efficiency and an expensive repair bill.

3.   Minimizing Vibration Issues

During normal operations, there is some vibration in the outdoor AC unit, but it’s barely perceptible. But, when the unit is not level and/or unsupported it can lead to excessive vibration which can cause problems. When there is too much vibration, it will increase the wear and tear on the unit and this can shake refrigerant lines loose. When the weight is not distributed evenly, there may be sinkage which is when the ground under the unit gives way. Over time, the entire outdoor AC unit can sink and this will pull the lines out of the unit and the building. This will lead to an unexpected expensive repair bill and the lifespan of the AC system may be shorter than expected.

Gradual Shifting is a Concern

The first step to creating a level surface for your HVAC systems is to hire a local professional contractor to carry out the work. As you can see, there are a lot of potential problems that can be avoided if the equipment is level. But, even if you hired a heating and cooling specialist to install the unit, there are potential problems to consider. The gradual dripping of water from the roof could erode the ground under the concrete pad. There may be natural erosion over time which can cause the same problem. If you notice these problems, it’s important to deal with them quickly before they get worse. The outside AC unit must be perfectly level to prevent the problems we’ve discussed in this article. Repairing or adding extra drainage to prevent rainfall on the outside unit is a good precaution. But, the best way to keep your HVAC system working efficiently is to schedule regular essential maintenance which will detect these issues earlier.

Leveling an AC Unit Pad

If you notice that the concrete support pad has shifted, sunk into the ground or there are cracks, it’s tempting to attempt a DIY fix. This is a bad idea because this job requires a certain level of HVAC technical expertise to execute to a good standard. It’s important to understand that the AC unit may need to be disconnected temporarily and moved to get to the concrete pad. Then the pad must be repaired, replaced or leveled as required and determining the best approach requires experience. Once the pad is level, the outdoor AC unit must be reinstalled, connected and tested to ensure that it’s working as intended. Even if you have some technical or DIY skills, there are a lot of important components in the unit and they are easy to damage. For this reason, it’s a better ideal to contact your local heating and cooling specialist to fix the problem for you.

In Conclusion

Installing, repairing or maintaining an outdoor AC unit and/or concrete pad is a job for a professional HVAC technician. In many cases, there is a need for additional prep work to get the area ready for the AC unit. There are lines to organize and connect and it’s easy to make a mistake if you don’t know what you’re doing. HVAC equipment can be damaged if you’re not familiar with proper handling techniques.

If you’re concerned that your AC unit is not level or your system needs essential maintenance, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.