How Often Should AC Evaporator Coils Be Cleaned?

Your air conditioner helps you to control the environment in your home with confidence. AC units now come in all shapes and sizes to suit all user needs, but they require regular maintenance. Without upkeep, your AC unit will break down and could become useless.

One of the most important components within your AC unit is the evaporator coil. This guide will help explain how often evaporator coils should be cleaned and how to do this properly.

Cleaning Evaporator Coils

What Exactly Is The Evaporator Coil Of An AC?

Air conditioners work by cooling the air in your home. They do this by drawing in warm air, directing it through the AC, and then releasing it back into your home. There are a lot of different parts within the AC, but one of the most important is the evaporator coil, as this is what cools the air.

The evaporator coil is located within the blower compartment of your AC. It holds the cold refrigerant, which is used to draw the heat from the air. As air is drawn into the blower compartment, it passes over these cold coils and lowers the temperature. It is then released back into your home and cools the entire room or area.

Without a fully functioning evaporator coil, your air won’t cool. It’s vital you keep it in good condition, or your AC unit becomes useless.

AC Evaporator Coil

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Cleaning Evaporator Coils – Why It’s Very Important

Clearly, the evaporator coil is an essential part of your AC. There are lots of good reasons to keep your evaporator coil clean, and we’ve given a quick breakdown of the key reasons here:

Better Efficiency

Your AC unit is designed to cool a room, and clean evaporator coils work more effectively. A clean evaporator coil will absorb more heat quickly and means you don’t need to run the conditioner for as long to get the desired effect. This will help to limit your running costs and lower your energy bills each month.

Improved Indoor Comfort

If you live in a hot area, then you want to have the confidence that the interior of your building will be nice and cool. A clean evaporator coil will function properly and cool an area quickly so you can feel comfortable in your own home.

Extended Equipment Life Span

Like most home appliances, air conditioners aren’t designed to last forever, and they will eventually break down. By regularly cleaning your evaporator coil, you can help to prolong the life of your AC unit by helping it function correctly for longer. This will help protect your investment and let you get more value for money.

No Frozen Coil

Your evaporator coil relies on a balance of heat and cold, or the refrigerant within the coil can freeze up. If your coil is dirty and it can’t absorb enough heat, then the refrigerant will freeze up, and this will cause your AC unit to shut down. This can also cause significant water damage, which can be costly to repair.

Better Indoor Air Quality

If your evaporator coil isn’t cleaned regularly, then mold and bacteria can develop. This action of the conditioner will mean these particles get blown around your home and can be a potential health hazard. Regularly cleaning will help to stop this from happening.

How Often Should You Clean Your AC’s Evaporator Coil?

When To Clean Evaporator Coil

You should hopefully now understand all the reasons why you need to clean your evaporator coil, but how often do you need to do it? This is partly influenced by how often you use your device, as the more you use it, the more dust and debris will build up on the coils. If you’re using a lot every day, then you’ll need to do more frequent cleaning of the coil and other components.

As a general guide, you should clean your evaporator coils at least once a year. This should be enough to keep your AC unit working properly and prevent any long-term issues. Many air conditioners recommend an annual review by a professional, and this cleaning can be done as part of that inspection.

You also need to maintain the whole air conditioner to keep it working properly. Your air filters should be inspected and cleaned once a month as this will help stop dust and debris from entering your air conditioner and making your evaporator coil dirty.

A dirty evaporator coil can cause a 30% efficiency reduction which is quite noticeable. If you see the performance of your AC dip and it isn’t cooling as quickly, you should check the evaporator coil as it may need some additional cleaning.

How To Clean The Evaporator Coil Of Your AC Unit?

Cleaning the Evaporator Coils

There are a few different ways to clean the evaporator coil of your AC unit. You can use air, water, or specific cleaners. Start by turning your AC unit completely off and disconnecting all power sources. There should usually be an access panel that allows you to access your evaporator coil directly, but if not, you will need to check your user manual.

In a mini-split AC unit, your evaporator coil will be located on the unit on the wall itself, where the hot air is drawn in. On a central AC unit, it will be found on the main unit and not necessarily near the fans going into each room.

Once you have access to the panel, you can use your water (using a hose) or air (using a compressor) to get rid of any large pieces of dirt and debris from the coil. You can use a professional cleaner or some detergent mixed with water and spray it onto the coils. Leave it there for an hour or so to remove any dirt, and then rinse clean.

Once cleaned, you can close it all up again and power up the device to check it’s working correctly.

How Can I Prevent Evaporator Coils From Getting Dirty?

As with any home appliance, preventative measures are always best, and there are some steps you can take to stop your evaporator coils from getting dirty. Taking these steps will help to protect your AC unit and make it much easier to clean when the time comes:

  1. Change Your Air Filter – Your air filter gets rid of most of the dirt and debris before it can even reach your coil. This needs to be changed at least once a month, and maybe more if you use your AC a lot. You can get replacement filters from most hardware stores.
  2. Clear The Area – It’s a good idea to keep the AC unit clear of any trees, bushes, or other vegetation which can be drawn into the machine. Try to keep at least 2-3 feet clear around the unit if possible, and be careful when you’re mowing the lawn outside.
  3. Scheduled Maintenance – It’s worth getting professional HVAC maintenance done on your AC unit every year so you can get an expert to inspect it and clear it out. This is one of the best ways to prevent any long-term issues with your conditioner and will help make sure it’s kept functional for longer.

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People Also Ask (FAQ)

How much does the cleaning of evaporator coils cost from a pro?

Depending on the size of your AC unit and your location, it can cost anywhere from $150-$450 to get your evaporator coils professionally cleaned.

How long does it take to clean an evaporator coil?

It will typically take 1-2 hours to clean an evaporator coil.

Can you clean the evaporator coil without removing it?

You don’t need to remove an evaporator coil to clean it. Compressed air is a great way to get rid of larger debris and dust, but if you need to clean it more thoroughly, you should be able to reach it through the access panel.

Can I use vinegar to clean AC coils?

Yes, vinegar is often mixed with water and then used to clean AC coils. The acidic nature of the vinegar helps to get rid of any dirt and leaves the coil much cleaner. This is a cheaper alternative to buying a professional cleaning product.


Air conditioners are now in more homes than ever before, and it’s clear that homeowners really appreciate the benefits they bring. Like any home equipment, they need to be maintained to keep working properly, and keeping your evaporator coils clean is essential. Hopefully, this guide has helped explain how often condenser coils need to be cleaned and a quick guide on how to do it.

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with DIY and improving my family home. HVAC topics can be tricky for homeowners so I decided to share my knowledge on the subject. When I am not working on DIY projects, you can find me at the beach or my local coffee shop.