When it comes to maintaining your AC system, giving the AC evaporator coil and condenser coil an annual cleaning is one of the most important tasks you can perform. Dirty AC coils will greatly decrease the cooling system’s performance, raise your energy bills, and subject the system to more wear and tear. Failing to clean your AC coils yearly can also greatly reduce the lifespan of the system. We’ll show you why keeping your AC coils clean is so important and discuss some options for cleaning your AC evaporator and condenser coils.
The Importance of Keeping AC Coils Clean
Any type of air conditioning works based on the process of heat transfer, which means that it removes heat from one area (inside your home) and transfers then releases the heat to another area (outside your home). The AC evaporator coil and condenser coil allow this process to occur. As the cold refrigerant flows through the evaporator coil, heat energy in the warm air flowing over the coil is naturally absorbed by the refrigerant to cool the air. The heated refrigerant then moves back outside and into the condenser coil, and the fan in the outdoor unit blows air over the coil to enable all the heat to be released outside.
If either the evaporator coil or the condenser coil is coated in dirt and dust, the heat transfer process won’t work as well, and your AC won’t cool nearly as effectively. Dust and dirt on the coil act like insulation and will prevent air from coming directly into contact with the coil. If the evaporator coil is dirty, the refrigerant won’t be able to capture nearly as much heat, and the air conditioner will cool much more slowly.
A dirty evaporator coil will also often cause the AC to freeze up. The refrigerant is extremely cold when it flows into the evaporator coil. If the refrigerant doesn’t absorb sufficient heat, its temperature can remain low enough that the condensation that naturally forms on the evaporator coil starts to freeze before it can drip off the coil into the drain pan.
A dirty condenser coil will also put additional strain on the AC system and can potentially lead to major damage and a needed AC repair down the road. If there is lots of dust and dirt on the condenser coil, the refrigerant won’t be able to release all of the heat it captured from inside your house. This leads to the refrigerant being much warmer when it flows back inside to the evaporator coil, which means the AC won’t be able to remove as much heat from your home at a time. As such, it will take your AC much longer to fully cool your home.
The refrigerant pressure also remains much higher if the system can’t properly release all of the heat. When the pressure is higher, the AC condenser will have to work harder to pump refrigerant through the system. This not only leads to higher energy usage, but it can also cause the AC unit to overheat and suffer serious damage.
Professional vs. DIY Coil Cleaning
Although you can find coil cleaning sprays online or at most any home improvement store, most experts recommend never trying to clean AC coils on your own and instead hiring a certified AC technician to clean the coils for you. The evaporator coil and condenser coil are extremely fragile, and you could easily bend the fins on the coils and make your AC work less efficiently. If you’re not extremely careful, you could also puncture a hole in the coil or the refrigerant lines that connect to it and cause a refrigerant leak. Should this happen, you’d be looking at an expensive repair bill to have the coil replaced and the system recharged with refrigerant.
Cleaning the condenser coil is also quite difficult to do on your own. This is because the only way to access the condenser coil is by removing the entire fan assembly from the top of the outdoor AC unit. If you don’t know how to do this correctly, you could easily damage the fan motor or its electrical wiring. When cleaning the condenser coil, it is also important to first cover the electronics and other sensitive components with plastic to prevent damage.
Since so many issues can occur if the coils aren’t cleaned safely and properly, it’s always best to leave this job to the professionals. Coil cleaning typically only needs to be done once a year, so it’s easy to have this done as part of your annual AC maintenance service.
At Air Care Heating & Cooling, we specialize in AC maintenance and can ensure that your evaporator and condenser coils are clean and everything else works just as it should. We work on both residential and commercial HVAC systems for customers in Shawnee, KS and throughout the Kansas City area. We can handle all your heating and cooling installation and repair needs as well. For more information on the importance of AC maintenance or to schedule an AC tune-up, give Air Care Heating & Cooling a call today.