How To Clean Cottonwood From Your AC

Do you worry about how to clean cottonwood from air conditioner? If so, then you’re in luck! This guide will help you overcome this issue. Protecting your air conditioner from leaves, bugs, and cottonwood, will increase its longevity.

In addition, by understanding exactly how they work, you can significantly reduce your maintenance and healthcare costs.

What Is Cottonwood?

Every year for about three weeks during the summer, fluffy cotton-like seeds are let loose into the environment. These cottonwood seeds resemble winter snow and even pile up on the ground. Called “summer snow,” cottonwood seeds trigger horrible allergies in people with sensitive predispositions.

Besides health-related concerns, cottonwood fluff also threatens to harm the air conditioner in different ways, such as overworked components, higher energy bills, and airflow loss.

Cooling will be less effective because summer snow obstructs air circulation. Furthermore, cottonwood also prevents air conditioning from expelling heated air from the condenser.

Why Is Cottonwood Harmful To Your AC?

Overworked Components

Cottonwood seeds are effectively corrosive for air conditioner components. As a result, they will fail over time and need costly repairs. Finally, if the issue remains, the compressor might cause overheating and need replacement altogether.

Overworked Components

Loss Of Airflow

Cottonwood particles attach themselves to ACs’ condenser coils and other components, decreasing their efficiency. Consequently, the air conditioner has to use more energy and effort to produce the same airflow output.

Over time, the airflow will decrease to a trickle. As a result, the AC unit will increasingly struggle to keep the home cool, causing discomfort throughout the summer.

Higher Utility Bills

The two problems mentioned above cause a reduction in the unit’s energy efficiency. As a result, a less efficient AC costs more than expected every month. That means precious money going down the drain in the form of steep energy bills. Unfortunately, unless addressed, these bills will only accumulate over time.

Alarmingly, the damages wrought by summer snow don’t end here. Duct leaks, low refrigerant, and aging systems struggling under cottonwood will cause electric bills to skyrocket.

Signs Of A Cottonwood Clog In Your AC

A clogged AC line would have the following symptoms:

  1. A musty, moldy smell near your indoor unit from the vents
  2. Water leaking from the unit
  3. Water damage near the unit
  4. AC system stops cooling your home
  5. AC system shuts down or does not turn on
Lack Of Cold Air

Refrigerant leaks result in a lack of cold air. Wear and tear create holes in the coil, enabling leakage. Cottonwood seeds exacerbate this degradation. Therefore, to keep your AC functional, regular checkups are mandatory.

Unusual Noise

Issues in the fan motor cause a shrieking noise. The sound may be due to damage to the motor in the compressor of the condenser system.

How To Clean Cottonwood From Your AC

Carrying out such cleaning missions requires expertise. You might not be able to identify severe issues before they overwhelm your unit. Cleaning the coil yourself is not the best idea, either, as, without the proper equipment, you might accidentally push cottonwood particles even deeper into the unit. This would only make the situation worse.

Keeping all this in mind, your best course of action is to avail professional services of a company known for its reliability.

However, if you would like to clean it yourself, ensure you wear a mask, gloves and follow these steps to the T:

  1. Ensure your system is shut off. One can do this either through the disconnect box outside or the indoor thermostat.
  2. The next step is to clean the condenser. For this, use a regular hose instead of a pressure washer.
  3. Spray the system’s exterior from top to bottom. This should make the cottonwood collect as the bottom.
  4. You can then turn on the system. Determine if it is performing appropriately or not.
Clean Cottonwood From AC Unit

How To Protect Your AC From Cottonwood

There are several ways by which you can protect your unit against summer snow. However, it would be best if you determined which combination of protective measures is best suited to your individual needs.

Some people install an air conditioner condenser behind their home. Others suggest putting mesh covers on their AC units. These covers don’t only keep cottonwood seeds out but also dust and various kinds of pests as well. Indeed, experts recommend cottonwood screens as the best remedy available for this issue.

The handy pros of cottonwood screen include:

  1. It is easy to install and ensure the safety of your AC
  2. You can save money by installing cottonwood screens around your AC. It saves money in terms of repairing and replacement, occasionally protecting from complete system failure.
  3. You can also clean the screens regularly without any significant effort

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How does cottonwood enter your AC?

Seed fibers latch onto the AC’s coils. As a result, it gets drawn in the condenser coil during cooling system operation. A single cottonwood tree in your backyard is enough to damage the outdoor AC unit.

Do AC filters protect from cottonwood?

PreVent filters easily attach to the outside air intake of condensers, cooling towers, and air conditioning units, preventing them from clogging up with outdoor debris. In addition, it is a protective instrument to keep ACs safe from cottonwood deterioration.

How much do professionals take to clean cottonwood from your AC?

Professionals settle for regular AC servicing costs around $75 -200. Extended service contracts may run around $150-500 while including the whole HVAC system. For other underlying problems, the costs may vary accordingly.

What other trees are known for damaging AC units?

Cottonwood trees are the most notorious. They may be beautiful, but their fluffy white fuzz causes a lot of nuisance. Other particles to watch out for are dead leaves, branches, and small twigs. If they fall through the AC’s grates, they might damage the system.


Cottonwood is seedlike and is rampant during summer. They commonly get into AC units, which can disrupt their performance. Therefore, it is vital to keep it clean, either by yourself or through the help of a professional.

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.