Air Conditioner Fins Crumbling? (Causes & Fixes)

By - Ron Singh

Updated -

Every component of your air conditioner is important and plays a unique role. For example, the fins are like windows that allow air to pass through the air conditioner and prevent overheating.

However, when the fins begin to crumble, it affects the amount of air that passes through it to the air conditioner. 

This means your air conditioner can quickly overheat and trap dust. Also. There are several other reasons why the fins begin to crumble or rust.

Air Conditioner fins are thin sheets of Aluminum aligned like cells near an air conditioner’s condenser, which allows the heat from the condenser out and air to cool the condenser. Since Aluminum is very light; it can easily bend whenever there’s a force on it; as little as pressing your fingers on the fins can crumble them. 

Why Are My Air Conditioner Fins Crumbling?

Air Conditioner Fins Crumbling

External forces compress the fins to make them crumble; these forces could be in the form of heavy wind, pressing the fins while cleaning, your pets hitting on them, gardening, or any weight that can bend the fins.

The fins are pretty thin and delicate; therefore, any pressure on them will crumble them, so you must use extra caution when handling them.

Air conditioner fins are very delicate and can easily crumble with or without any external forces acting on them because of the material used in making them.

Aluminum, the material used in making the fins, is a lightweight and flexible material used to make objects susceptible to damage. 

When they’re in thin sheets, just like the fins of a condenser, they become even less sturdy and can easily bend. Heavy winds and debris of trapped dirt can also cause the fins to bend.

Whenever the air conditioner fins crumble, it affects the heat exchange between the air conditioner and the surroundings and, in turn, affects the type of air coming out of the front of the air conditioner.

However, due to the quality of material used in making the fins, they may seem less significant to the function of the air conditioner in comparison with the other components, which are thicker and made with more rigid materials.

However, using Aluminum for the fins is very deliberate and consequential to the working of the air conditioner.

Aluminum is a good heat conductor, just like copper, but unlike copper, it has Oxidation protection, preventing it from rusting as quickly as copper. 

Since the fins are on the condenser, the vapor from the condensation does not affect it. It is why fins are made of Aluminum and, most importantly, needed on the air conditioner.

Consequently, whenever the fins are bent, it traps dirt from air particles, further blocking air passage through the cells.

How Do You Fix a Broken AC Fin?

You can fix bent AC fins by combing through them with a condenser or coil comb designated for the exact purpose.

The coil comb can be metal or plastic with slim tongs that can fit between the fins’ cells.

You can improvise by manually straightening them with a thin stick that fits into the cells and combing it through if you don’t have access to a coil comb.

While using the coil comb, there are a few steps to take in straightening the bent fins of an air conditioner to avoid damaging them.

One thing you should remember is that the fins are as crucial as the condensers and compressors because, without the fins, the other components will not function properly and may cost extra to keep your home cool. 

Therefore, you must be careful when handling them because you may end up causing more damage in the process of fixing them. Also, to avoid injuring yourself while at it, be cautious.

With a fast-approaching heat season, you’d have to ensure that your air conditioner is in perfect condition and has no fault that will prevent it from cooling your home.

To ensure it is still great, inspect all the major parts and treat every fault as soon as possible. 

For example, check out the fins to ensure they’re not blocked with dirt or crumbling and the compressors for any leakages in the air conditioner because a single fault in one of the components can affect the function of the rest.

#1. Step 1: Straighten the Folded Fin Using a Flat Mouth Screwdriver

You can skip this step if the fins are not badly bent and move straight to comb through them.

However, for severely bent fins, avoid using your bare hands to unfold the fins; instead, use a flat screwdriver or any flat object that can go in between the cells.

#2. Step 2: Insert the Coil Gently

The coil comb comes in different sizes, and not all will fit into just any fin cell. You may break the fin further if you forcefully insert the combs without first checking out if they fit.

Ensure that the teeth of the comb align appropriately with the spaces in the fins.

#3. Step 3: Comb Through to the End

Begin combing through the folded spaces from the end; they’ll be more accessible and align better.

Can You Replace Air Conditioner Fins?

No, you cannot replace just the air conditioner fins when damaged; although the AC will continue to work even with damaged fins, it wouldn’t be long before it begins to overheat.

The fins are attached to a radiator or coil where the heat exchange occurs; you’ll have to replace the entire condenser for new fins if it gets severely damaged. 

The fins are critical to the condenser’s function; unfortunately, you cannot separate one from the other because the fins are firmly attached to the condenser.

Fins are delicate, but you can quickly fix them when bent or crumbling. However, that is just that. If they become damaged beyond repairs, the only option you have is to replace the condenser. 

Usually, the damaged fins should not affect the condenser much except if the damage is severe.

If the condenser is not working correctly due to overheating or leakages, you will have to change the entire unit because the function of the AC depends on the condenser and the compressor.

Some parts can also affect the efficiency of your AC when damaged, and the solutions to these problems include.

However, prevention is always better than cure; therefore, you should ensure that your fins are well protected to prevent them from getting damaged.

In just two easy ways, you can avoid the situation where you’d have to replace the condenser of your ac because of a damaged find. 

First, make a metal fence around the outdoor unit of your ac to protect it from pets, garden equipment, and figs that can damage it.

There should be enough space between the fence and the fins to allow proper aeration.

The second thing to do is to clean the fins from time to time so that you can take out any dirt trapped in the cells.

How Do You Prevent AC Coils From Corroding?

You can prevent your AC coils from rusting by taking the following steps:

#1. Clean the Coils Thoroughly

Ensure that both coils are clean and free from dirt. You can use blowers to blow out dust from it or wash it with water.

#2. Coat the Coils

Use anti-corrosive coating on the coils. They’re usually in the form of spray paints and easy to use in tight corners

#3. Treat the Air

Install an air cleaner to absorb all the Volatile Organic Compounds in the atmosphere of your home

#4. Wash the Fins Regularly

Rinse dust and debris from the outdoor unit of the AC regularly. With these steps, you won’t be dealing with coil corrosion on your AC.

Two causes of coil corrosion are when the condensers are exposed to chloride or fluoride particles in the air and end up in the condenser.

Or if the evaporator coil comes in contact with some Volatile Organic Compounds (VCOS) in the air. These compounds are in some household materials like fabrics or textiles. 

In addition, regular particles in the atmosphere may not harm us, but once they accumulate in the evaporator coil, they begin to erode.

There are two condensers in an AC; one is in the outdoor unit of the AC, known as the condenser coil.

The condenser pushes out the heat extracted from the inside of your home. While the second is called the evaporator coil, which is the coil that absorbs the heat from your house. 

When both coils are rusty, the AC becomes less effective since the heat exchange is impaired, and the best way to prevent this is by scheduled maintenance on both compressors.


If you don’t protect the outdoor unit of your air conditioner with a fence, there’s very little you can do to prevent the fins from crumbling, considering how delicate they are.

And to reduce further complications, it is best to prevent it from getting hit by your pets or windstorm, which can damage the fins and block the cells.

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