While we sometimes take our AC units for granted, they are a modern luxury with many components. One of these components is an AC condenser coil. The primary function of condenser coils is to capture and release heat to the outside, allowing you to stay cool and relaxed.
Since condenser coils carry a lot of responsibility, it only makes sense that you should be responsible for maintaining your condensing unit.
Although some jobs require a professional touch—such as repairing or replacing your condenser coils—there are some maintenance strategies you can utilize yourself. If the problem is still not resolved, you can contact Hinesville’s expert air conditioner repair technicians.
The Role AC Condenser Coils Play
Although air conditioning units serve similar functions, they’re not all the same. Many homeowners use a split-system AC unit that has both indoor and outdoor units:
- Indoor units: An indoor unit consists of a fan coil or evaporator coil and a furnace. The cooling or evaporator coil is on the fan coil or the furnace’s outlet side. An indoor unit’s primary function is to eliminate heat from inside your home, allowing your air handler to move and blow cool air.
- Outdoor units: Your outdoor unit is where your condenser coil comes into play. Your condenser coil takes the heat captured by your indoor unit, and as the refrigerant flows and absorbs the heat, your coils push the heat outside. Evaporator and condenser coils typically use copper, but aluminum and spine fin coils are common as well.
Why Should You Clean Your AC Condenser Coils?
While your AC condenser coils play an essential role for your condensing unit, harmful particles like dust, dirt, pet pollutants, debris, and more can severely impact their performance.
A buildup of these pollutants may reduce your AC unit’s ability to move heat in and outside your property. This reduced performance can especially be frustrating during summer.
Dirty coils may also hamper or completely block all airflow, raising bills and reducing your AC unit’s performance. Specifically, dirty coils may trigger problems like those listed below.
A Less Comfortable Home
Dirty coils may increase overall humidity, leaving you and your family warmer than usual. Additionally, your family may breathe in harmful pollutants that can cause respiratory issues and even attract unwanted pests and mold growth.
Skyrocketing Energy Bills
Your air conditioner will need to work harder than before to achieve your usual comfort level. This less efficient operation will cause your energy bills to skyrocket.
Besides energy bills, dirty coils may also lead to other costs. The most considerable expense is often system replacements or repairs. With your unit needing to work overtime to cool your home, its components are at a greater risk of malfunctioning or breaking down. Taking the time to clean your coils may mean a more comfortable home and fewer bills in the long run.
Cleaning Your Coils
While your AC condenser coils carry a big responsibility, the good news is that cleaning them is a stress-free process that you can easily do at home. In addition to cleaning your dirty coils, we’ll also detail how to straighten your cooling fans.
1. Disconnect the Power
When thoroughly cleaning any devices with an electronic source, disconnecting power is always good practice. While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get electrocuted while cleaning your condenser coils, it can still occur. Disconnect the power from your outdoor unit, then turn off its main power source.
2. Locate Your Coils
As discussed before, AC units typically have an evaporator coil and a condenser coil. Your evaporator coil is inside your indoor AC unit, located either:
- Inside its own cabinet
- Inside your air handler or your fan coil
- Attached to your furnace
Your condenser coil is outside and typically winds around your AC unit. Sometimes your condenser coil is fully exposed, but it might be well hidden at other times. Additionally, its top and exterior might need removing before you can start cleaning them.
It’s best to follow your manufacturer’s exact cleaning recommendations. However, having an AC repair technician check can significantly help if you’re unsure.
3. Eliminate Large Debris and Other Build-Up
Regardless of what method you use to clean your condenser coils, you should always start by removing any noticeable debris. Depending upon your coils’ guards, you might be limited to using items like tweezers to pick at buildups between the wires.
Another item you can use is a brush attached to a vacuum. This option will allow you to suck up excess debris and get your coils ready for a more thorough clean.
4. Use a Wet Cleaning Solution
While there’s more than one way to clean your condenser coils, many DIY strategies call for a wet cleaning solution. You can make cleaning solutions at home, like hand soap mixed with baking soda or a mixture of detergent or dish soap with water.
However, these DIY solutions can be ineffective, so cleaning solutions specifically made for air conditioning units are better. Just remember to read their directions, as some might require water dilution.
Once your cleaning solution becomes prepped, you can pour it inside a spray bottle and spray your coils outside. While you don’t want to drench your coils, you want to spray them enough to the point that the cleaning solution starts to drip.
You’ll want the cleaning solution to soak inside your coils for the time recommended by your manufacturer.
5. Rinse the Coils
Once the commercial solution finishes soaking, thoroughly rinse your coils. Most homeowners find success with a garden hose, but don’t use a nozzle as you can damage your fins from the pressure. Utilize low levels of pressure instead, and you should continue rinsing until the solution disappears.
6. Straighten Your Coil Fans
After waiting for your condenser coils to dry, you might need to straighten your coil fans. You’ll want to use a professional fin straightening comb to do this.
As you use the comb to straighten your fans, don’t be afraid to take it slow and stop every so often. Use a low amount of force as you can puncture or break your fans from too much pressure. If you’re still unsure if your fans are properly straight, a professional can help.
Using Compressed Air Instead
Instead of using a commercial or DIY cleaning solution, some dealers will opt for compressed air. This method typically pairs with a shop-vac and powerful chemicals used to clean your air conditioning model and is generally only used for outdoor coils.
The process works by blowing the compressed air opposite your coils’ normal airflow direction. It’s essential to blow air directly through your coils’ fans instead of at an angle. You or your HVAC technician can suck up all the dirt and debris left behind using the shop-vac.
Sometimes compressed air is enough to clean your coils, but following up with a commercial cleaner is also recommended.
How Often Should You Clean Your Coils?
There’s no set time or standard of when you should clean your AC unit’s coils. After all, the time can depend upon factors such as:
- If you have a filter and how often you change it
- How much dust, dirt, or debris your property accumulates—for example, if you have a large home with many family members and pets, your coils will probably get dirtier faster
- The environment outside your property — do you have clean air outside, or is there a lot of dirt and debris?
- Overall humidity can also play a role with hotter climates typically needing more regular cleanings
While there’s no set period, having professional HVAC technicians check your air conditioning unit at least once a year is vital. Scheduling this maintenance session right before summer is an optimal time.
How the Pros Can Help
While part of being a responsible homeowner can include regularly cleaning your air condenser coils yourself, you can still benefit from calling professional HVAC technicians. By working with HVAC professionals, you can receive services like:
- Regularly scheduled maintenance sessions
- Recommended cleaning and maintenance solutions
- A thorough air condenser coil cleaning
- Changing your air filters
- Checking your system for any issues
- Significantly improving energy efficiency and cutting down on bills
- Repairing or replacing your air conditioning system or key components
Working with Georgia Air Cooling & Heating will give you access to professionals, transparent and cost-effective solutions, and guaranteed satisfaction. Armed with the proper maintenance, your air condenser coils can have a life expectancy of 20 years or more.
Call Georgia Air Cooling & Heating Today
It’s hard to imagine a world without air conditioning, especially in hot climates like Georgia. However, to ensure you and your family stay cool during the summer and year-round, you’ll want your AC unit to have the proper maintenance.
Luckily, our team provides customized solutions that’ll keep you and your family cool for years to come. From regular check-ups to extensive repairs or replacements, Georgia Air Cooling & Heating is here to help.