How to Clean Central Air Conditioner Evaporator Coils

Prolong the life expectancy of your air conditioning unit!

A good quality air conditioning unit has a life expectancy of about fifteen to twenty yearson average. Replacing an air conditioning unit can cost you money, so you need to take all the measures necessary to prolong its life expectancy. Perhaps the best way to extend the life of an AC unit is to keep it

Evaporator Coils – What you need to know?

Evaporator coils and condenser coils are the two most important parts of a home central air conditioning unit. Unlike condenser coils that are located outside your home in the condensing unit, the evaporator coils are located behind a panel on top of the furnace.

It is a common misconception that the refrigerant that runs through these coils adds to the coolness of your room. However, the primary purpose of this refrigerant is to suck heat in the air and through this action, it helps the air conditioning unit cool down the room.

If something causes an obstruction in the process, such as a dirt or dust on the surface of the evaporator coils, it may degrade the efficiency of your air conditioning unit and cost you money in increased utility bills.

Additionally, your system may have to run longer and harder to maintain thermostat settings and extract humidity from the air—which is one of the most important functions of an air conditioning unit. Dirty evaporator coils may also cause coil icing which, if neglected, may eventually freeze up the entire system, triggering an automatic shutdown of the system.

Since the evaporator coil of an air conditioning unit is placed in the air stream of your system, it automatically attracts contaminants and dust. To make sure your air conditioning system is working at optimum efficiency, an annual inspection of your system is critical.

Cleaning Evaporator Coils – The Steps Involved

The external surface of the evaporator coil in direct contact with the air flow is not very difficult to clean. Basic  cleaning can be a do-it-yourself job, but for more extensive cleaning, the services of a professional is recommended.

To clean the evaporator coils of your air conditioning unit, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the power supply of your AC unit.
  2. To access the coils, remove the evaporator coil access panel. To remove the access panel, remove the metal tape that seals the panel.
  3. Next, remove the screws that secure the access panel of the evaporator coil to the air handler.
  4. You’ll notice that the evaporator coil is organized into a frame having two sides.
  5. Carefully examine the external surfaces of the evaporator coil for any traces of dirt or dust. Also check the coils for any signs of mold growth on them.
  6. If you find mold growth on the coils, contact your HVAC contractor instead of trying to clean it yourself. Mold growth is treated using approved biocides for cooling systems.
  7. To clean the dirt, gently spray coil cleaner on the exposed surfaces of the evaporator coil. Leave it for some time.
  8. After giving good time for the coils to soak in the cleaner, pour some water down the drain to make sure the coils are cleaned properly. The coil cleaner will automatically drip off the evaporator coils into the pan.
  9. If you notice that the water is not being properly drained from the drain pan, it indicates blockage in the drain tube. If that’s the case, contact your HVAC contractor  and immediately discontinue using your air conditioning unit until the problem has been corrected.
  10. Once you’re through these steps, examine the coils again. If you feel there is a need to reapply coil cleaner, do so as necessary.
  11. After completing the task, put the access cover on again and tighten the screws. Using a metal tape, tape the seams around the evaporator coil access panel.

Contacting HVAC Contractors in your Area

As the old maxim goes, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” so instead of trying to do the job yourself, especially if you are unsure of your skills, call a HVAC contractor whose extensive field experience will enable him to make fast and accurate repairs to resolve your problem the first time.


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