Informational Guide

How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils

Learn how to quickly and effectively clean your AC coils. Keep your unit running cool all summer long.

by Josh M

An AC coil is what helps it dispel hot air outside. However, when it isn’t cleaned frequently, it won’t be able to cool effectively. Furthermore, hiring someone to do it lengthens the process and makes it expensive.

This is why you should learn how to clean air conditioner coils yourself! Read to know how you can do so.

A Group of AC Condenser Attached to a Blue Wall
Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil expels heat from your house. Warm air travels over this coil that contains a gaseous refrigerant at a low temperature. As a result, the air becomes cooler and then reenters your house.

This coil resides in the air handler of the central air conditioner. In addition, it is found in the internal unit of split ACs fitted inside the premises.

Condenser Coil

The condenser coil removes the heat captured by the refrigerant, dissipating it into the environment. This coil is found in the outer part of the split and window air conditioners. In addition, it is present near the compressor unit of the central air conditioner unit.

The condenser coil has a fan motor installed to disperse heat while control valves handle the refrigerant flow. As a result, the refrigerant is forced to become a liquid, causing it to drive out energy.

Why Are Clean AC Coils So Important?

Better System Performance

Air conditioner units are expensive, so it’s natural to want to get something worthwhile. Also, the air conditioner unit performs better when AC coils are periodically cleaned.

You can use the coil cleaning instructions given in the AC unit’s manual. It will help ensure better system performance.

Cleaner Home Air

Another reason for cleaning your AC coils is to enjoy fresh and clean air inside the house. Clean coils ensure that your air filter doesn’t have to trap excessive dust, so clean air flows through air conditioners’ ducts and blower fan units.

Increased AC Unit Life

Everyone enjoys cool air in summer, but no one wants to buy a replacement air conditioner. So instead, learn how to clean air conditioner coils and increase the life of your air conditioner unit.

This technique works with all kinds of air conditioners. Make sure to clean your AC coils every few months to make them last.

Energy Efficiency

Air conditioners aren’t environmentally friendly as they consume large amounts of electricity. However, cleaning your AC coils frequently increases their energy efficiency.

Since less energy is required, less electricity is used up, and there isn’t as much stress on the AC to work.

What To Use When Cleaning Air Conditioner Coils

AC Coil Dripping in Water
Cleaning Brush And Comb

Using a cleaning brush is sufficient for most AC coil cleaning needs. It removes dust buildup on the evaporator and condenser coil surfaces.

A cleaning brush can reach difficult places and remove small dust pockets. You can also use a coil comb to clean the coil fins well.

However, they can bend if used carelessly. Immediately use a fin comb to straighten the fins, so they keep working efficiently.

Compressed Air

Compressed air works well on units that only have a light layer of dust on them. You can point the nozzle at the condenser coil fins to blow the dust away.

Always ensure that you are not forcing compressed air into air ducts. It would push the debris against small spaces and clog them.

Do note that compressed air may make dust disperse everywhere, making everything dirty. So use compressed air inside with caution.

Commercial Cleaners

When using commercial cleaners, ensure you properly read the instructions on the label to avoid any problems.

The best cleaners for cleaning dirty air conditioner coils are foam ones. You can spray the liquid solutions on coil fins and surfaces. Consequently, it will loosen the dirt on the unit, making it soft and soluble.

You can then use a piece of cloth to wipe any remaining dust on the air conditioner coils. You can also reapply the cleaner if required, which is only suitable for clogged AC coils.

Household Detergents

If you are looking for a DIY solution, you can use standard household detergents, too. Mix the detergent in warm water and fill it in a spray bottle. Now, this cleaning spray can be used just like commercial liquid cleaners.

Household detergents usually take more time to clean the evaporator coil as well as the condenser coils. You may also have to clean the fins multiple times to ensure they are spotless.

How To Clean The Air Conditioner Coils

Evaporator Coils

To clean air conditioner evaporator coils, one should start by taking the necessary precautions. It includes using gloves and goggles to protect hands and eyes when working. It would be best if you also disconnected the power to the air condition unit.

Here is a stepwise guide to clean the AC evaporator coils.

  1. Remove the access panel in the mini-split’s internal unit or the central air conditioner’s air blower unit
  2. Use compressed air to remove the dirt stuck in the evaporator coil fins and pipes
  3. Use a cleaning brush to loosen grit and then blow it away with compressed air
  4. Evaporate cleaning liquid should be sprayed on the evaporator fins
  5. Then, use a clean cloth to wipe the evaporator
  6. Repeat the cleaning process if there is still some dust
  7. Clean the surroundings thoroughly using a vacuum cleaner
  8. Replace the unit’s access panel and turn the power back on

Condenser Coils

The process of cleaning a central AC’s and split AC’s condenser coils is quite similar. Here is a guide to clean AC condenser coils:

  1. Disconnect the power to the air conditioner unit by turning off the circuit breaker
  2. Remove the screws to remove the access panel or cover protecting the condenser coil
  3. Either use a soft brush or compressed air to remove the dust settled in the coil fins
  4. Use a low-pressure water nozzle to remove the loose dirt entirely from the condenser coil
  5. Use a soft cloth to remove any remaining dust
  6. Replace the protective cover and turn the AC back on

Portable & Window AC Coils

Portable and window air conditioner units have both coils present in a single body. Therefore, it makes their cleaning slightly different from larger units. However, the safety precautions for DIY cleaning remain the same as above:

  1. Turn off the unit for some time to ensure that the refrigerant gets settled
  2. Prepare a cleaning solution using a 3% commercially available hydrogen peroxide
  3. Spray the cleaning liquid on the coil fins and leave it for some time
  4. Please wait for it to evaporate (that will take a few hours)
  5. Use a damp cloth to wipe the coil fins, removing any leftover deposits
  6. Turn the unit on and enjoy optimal AC performance
Central AC Outdoor Condenser Unit on Roof

Can You Clean The AC Coils From Inside The House?

You can clean the air conditioner coils from inside the house using simple DIY methods.

Evaporator coils are usually present inside the house or in the air blower unit of the central air conditioner. They can be cleaned with a brush and fin comb. It ensures that the dust is removed near the blower and won’t move around.

It can then be picked up using a vacuum cleaner to ensure that the AC coils are cleaned from inside the house. In addition, it guarantees dust doesn’t settle on the furniture and other household items.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your AC Coil?

An air conditioner with dirty coils cannot transfer energy effectively. As a result, it reduces the unit’s performance and causes energy loss. Additionally, clogged AC coils can result in refrigerant leaks.

Grime on the AC coils forces the compressor unit to run harder and for a more extended period. It produces adverse effects like:

  • Accelerated System Wear
  • Higher Operating Temperatures
  • Increased Costs
  • Less Comfort
  • Poor Cooling Efficiency
  • Requires Frequent Repairs

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Can You Clean The AC Coils Without Removing Them?

Yes, you can! Cleaning the AC coils without removing them isn’t challenging as long as it only has minimal grime buildup. You can use compressed air to blow the dust off the evaporator coils, while cleaning liquid can also be sprayed onto the coils to remove the clogs easily.

How Much Does AC Coil Cleaning Cost?

To clean AC coils by yourself, you only need to buy some cleaning supplies costing less than a hundred dollars. However, obtaining a professional AC coil cleaning service will cost you between $100 to $400. The cleaning charges depend on the placement and number of coils and type of air conditioner.

How Often Should Air Conditioner Coils Be Cleaned?

It depends on your home environment. Air conditioner coils need to be cleaned at least once a year under ideal conditions. Condenser coils on the external unit will optimally work when cleaned twice a year.

Conclusion

Learning how to clean air conditioner coils at home will ensure that you prolong the life of your AC units. Consequently, you will enjoy cleaner air, reduced energy bills, and better system performance.

Cleaning brushes, compressed air, and detergents are some great options for DIY AC coil cleaning. Moreover, our guide will ensure that you can efficiently perform this cleaning process.

If overwhelmed, you can always contact a professional air conditioner coil cleaning service provider to get this done.

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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