Is your air conditioner not cooling your home as efficiently as it used to? Have you noticed your AC running for longer periods just to maintain the set temperature? If so, a dirty coil could be to blame.
Over time, air conditioner coils accumulate dust, dirt, pollen and other contaminants that restrict airflow and reduce the system’s cooling capacity. It’s important to periodically clean your AC’s coils to restore proper operation and energy efficiency.
This article provides tips on safely cleaning both the outdoor condenser coil and the indoor evaporator coil yourself. We’ll also look at signs it’s time for a professional deep clean or coil replacement. With a clean AC coil, you can optimise cooling performance and avoid expensive issues down the road.
What Causes AC Coils to Get Dirty?
Air conditioner coils can get clogged with a variety of contaminants over time. The main culprits that lead to dirty AC coils are:
Dust and Debris
Dust, dirt, and other airborne particles are constant in most environments. As air circulates through the system, this debris builds up on the condenser and evaporator coils, blocking optimal airflow. Things like construction dust, vehicle exhaust, and seasonal pollen can quickly coat coils.
Pollen and Pet Dander
Tiny pollen grains from trees and plants easily stick to AC coils as warmer air is pulled inside. Pet dander from cats, dogs, and other furry pets also collects on coils as air circulates. These tiny particles clump together, restricting airflow.
Mould, Bacteria and Biofilm
AC systems’ damp, enclosed space can promote mould, bacteria, and biofilm growth. Things like excess humidity, condensation, and coil damage allow this organic buildup. It creates a sticky film on coils that captures even more contaminants.
By understanding the most common sources of coil contamination, you can take steps to properly clean your AC coils and maintain a healthy, efficient system.
Impacts of a Dirty AC Coil
A dirty air conditioner coil can negatively affect performance and service life. Restricted airflow through clogged coils makes the system work harder to remove heat and humidity.
This leads to reduced cooling capacity, higher energy bills, and struggling compressor operation. A severely contaminated evaporator coil can even freeze up and stop cooling altogether.
Dirt debris can also cause corrosion and deterioration of the coil over time. The strain of working with limited airflow and heat transfer puts added stress on AC components.
This accelerates wear and can lead to premature breakdowns or the need for costly repairs. Proper coil cleaning provides benefits beyond just cleaner air—optimising efficiency, avoiding damage, extending equipment life, and saving energy costs.
Cleaning the Condenser Coil
Cleaning the outdoor condenser coil is an important maintenance task that can be done safely with proper precautions. First, turn off the power to the AC unit at the breaker panel or unplug it.
Remove any protective casing surrounding the coil assembly. Using a soft brush attachment, gently brush debris off the coil fins. Apply a condenser coil cleaner or mild spray like soap and water.
Avoid harsh chemicals. Rinse thoroughly from top to bottom without bending the fins. A garden hose on a light setting works well. Let the coil fully dry before restoring power.
For bent fins, use a fin comb tool to straighten them carefully. This process removes damaging debris buildup and restores proper airflow through the condenser coil for efficient operation.
Cleaning the Evaporator Coil
Cleaning the evaporator coil inside your home is a more involved process. As with the condenser, start by disconnecting power to the air handler.
Remove any access panels to expose the coil. Use a specialised foaming coil cleaner formulated for evaporators and apply it liberally to break up contaminants. Let it soak for a few minutes.
Then, rinse thoroughly with distilled water to prevent mineral deposits. A pump sprayer works best for this. Use a disinfecting coil cleaner to sanitise and deodorise the coil if mould is present.
When dry, replace any panels and restore power. An evaporator coil comb helps straighten bent fins post-cleaning. Take care not to damage the delicate coil fins. Proper cleaning removes debris buildup and maintains proper airflow through this key AC component.
When to Consider Replacing Your Coil
Coils sometimes become too clogged or damaged to clean and restore properly. Signs it may be time for replacement include extensive corrosion, cracks or holes in the tubing, severe fin damage, recurring clogs and restricted airflow even after cleaning, refrigerant leaks, and coils more than ten years old.
Replacement is also recommended if the AC system is old and inefficient. Newer coils are more durable and enhance performance. Upgrading to an aluminium coil can eliminate corrosion issues.
Consult an HVAC technician to examine your coil, check refrigerant levels and airflow, and determine if replacement is the best solution. Properly sizing and installing a new coil that matches your system can optimise cooling efficiency and extend the life of your AC.
Keep Your AC Cool
Keeping your AC coils clean optimises cooling capacity and energy efficiency. While you can often handle condenser cleaning yourself, evaporator coils and deep cleaning are best left to qualified HVAC professionals.
For expert coil inspection, cleaning and repairs, contact the team at Enersol Electrical. Their licensed technicians service all makes and models of air conditioner systems.
Reach out for any coil maintenance needs or if your AC is underperforming—Enersol Electrical is here to help restore peak operation. With proper coil care, your air conditioner will run cleaner, cooler and more efficiently this season.