How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils? A Step-By-Step Guide!

Undoubtedly, keeping your air conditioner coils clean is an important part of ensuring that your air conditioner runs efficiently. It is by far the best step you can take to increase your AC unit efficiency, not only that, but it also reduces the chances of costly repairs and makes your unit last longer.

So you should take advantage of this and clean your air conditioner coils. But many people don’t know how to clean their air conditioner coils properly. So in this blog post, we will provide a step-by-step guide to help you clean your air conditioner coils.

Understanding the Air Conditioner Coils

As we all are familiar with, there are two different types of coils in an air conditioner, the condenser coil and the evaporator coil.

Condenser Coils:  The condenser coils are located in the outside unit of the air conditioner and are responsible for releasing the heat collected from inside your home. It is usually made up of copper tubing and aluminum fins. They look like a grid-like structure.

Evaporator coils: The Evaporator coils, on the other hand, are located in the indoor unit but unlike condenser coils, evaporator coils are responsible for collecting heat from inside your home and releasing it outside. The evaporator coils also have copper tubing and aluminum fins, but they are arranged differently, in a vertical pattern instead of a grid.

Both types of coils need to be cleaned regularly for the optimum performance of your air conditioning system.

The importance of cleaning air conditioner coils

The efficiency of your air conditioner and the quality of the air in your home depend on regular cleaning of the filters and coils. If dirt, dust and other debris build up on the coils, your air conditioner will have to work harder to cool the air in your home. 

This can lead to increased energy consumption and higher monthly bills. And neglecting it for a long time can reduce the lifespan of your unit. On the other hand, cleaning the coils regularly:

  • Helps increase the efficiency of your air conditioner, leading to lower energy bills.
  • Lower the chance of wear and tear on your unit.
  • Keep the air quality inside your home healthy, preventing allergy and asthma triggers.
  • It helps in improving the overall performance of your unit.

Tools and materials needed for cleaning the AC coils

Before you start cleaning your air conditioner coils, it is important that you have all the required tools and materials. It includes:

  • Vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment: Help to remove the large debris such as leaves, twigs and other large particles from the coil.
  • Soft brush: Makes it easy to clean hard-to-reach areas.
  • Garden hose with a spray nozzle: Help to wash away any stubborn dirt or debris.
  • Fin comb: Help straighten the bent fins or coils.
  • Foaming A/C condenser coil cleaner: To wash out the dust from the coils properly.
  • Safety goggles for safety purposes.
  • Dust mask for safety purposes as well.

How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils? A step-by-step guide.

Here are the steps to clean the coils of your air conditioning unit, just follow these steps and you will be on your way to cleaning the coils.

Step 1. Remove the Cover

Before you begin cleaning your air conditioner coils, be sure to turn off the power to the unit and unplug it. You must have to do it. After turning off the power, locate the exterior of the air conditioner and remove the access panel that covers the coils. 

Depending on the type of air conditioner you have, this panel may be held in place by screws, or may simply slide out. Be careful at that time because the panel may have sharp edges. Once the panel is removed, you should see the coils.

Step 2. Remove the large debris such as leaves

After removing the cover of the unit and accessing the coils, the next step is to remove any large debris such as leaves, twigs or dirt from the surface of the coils. 

You can use a soft-bristled brush to help loosen any debris stuck in between the coils. And be sure to check all sides of the unit, including the top and bottom. And try to avoid stiffening the fins as much as you can. 

Carefully remove any debris and dispose of it properly. This will help prevent any clogging of the coils which can reduce airflow and if it becomes completely clogged it will completely block airflow, this will cause your unit to freeze up and cause other issues.

Step 3. Vacuum the Coils

Vacuuming the coils is a super important step in cleaning your air conditioner coils. This helps to remove dust and dirt from the fins, making it easier to clean further. You can use a shop vac or a vacuum with a brush attachment for this step. Whichever you prefer and you are comfortable.

Be sure to cover the entire surface area of ​​the coils. If you are having difficulty reaching certain areas, you may want to use a hose attachment to help you cover those hard-to-reach areas.

Make sure to move the hose slowly to effectively suck up all the dirt and debris. Once you’ve vacuumed, you should use a soft cloth or brush to remove any remaining debris. And you’re pretty much done, but a few more steps ahead.

Step 4. Straighten the bent fins

Once the coils are free of dirt and debris, you need to straighten any bent fins. Bent fins prevent air from passing through the coils and can cause a decrease in the performance of your air conditioner. These are soft aluminum fins and are easily bent or crushed. That’s why it is necessary to straighten them. Causes of bent fins result from:

  • Physical impacts, such as from fallen branches, debris, or other objects striking the unit.
  • Improper installation
  • Interference of birds
  • As the unit ages, metal fins weaken and are more susceptible to bending.

You can use a fin comb to do so, carefully insert the fin comb between the fins and gently Straighten them out. And don’t expect the fins to straighten out exactly as before. But be careful not to damage the coils as this will do more harm than good. 

Step 5. Clean the Protective Grille

The protective grill located in front of the coils is important for keeping the coils free of dirt and debris. So it will be good if you clean them when cleaning the coils. To clean this grill, first take it out of the unit and keep it aside. 

Then, take a mild soap and water solution to wash the grill. Wash it thoroughly and let it air dry in the sun before putting it back in its place. And be sure to double-check that all dust and debris has been removed.

Step 6. Replace the cover

Once you have cleaned and dried the protective grill and put it in place. Now, it’s time to replace your air conditioner unit cover to protect the coils from further dirt and debris. To do this, first line up the cover with the holes on the sides of the unit, then secure the cover with screws. 

If you don’t have access to screws, you can always use zip ties or other secure items. Make sure the cover is tightly secured so that no debris can get into the coils. And you are done!

How to prevent buildup of dirt and debris on the coils?

Now you know how to clean air conditioner coils, but how can you prevent dirt and debris from building up on the coils? First, let me be clear that preventing dirt build-up doesn’t mean you won’t need your air conditioner coils cleaned. 

These steps will help you prevent 30-50% accumulation of dirt and debris and it will reduce the frequency of cleaning air conditioner coils. Here are the tips for preventing the buildup of dirt and debris on the coils.

  1. Keep the air filter clean: Air filters are designed to prevent dirt, dust and other debris from entering your air conditioning unit, and over time they get clogged, so it’s important to keep them clean and free of dust and debris. 
  2. Keep the area around the unit clear: Make sure that any shrubs, trees, and plants are trimmed away from the unit to ensure proper airflow.
  3. Install gutter guards: Gutter guards are designed to keep gutters from clogging, but you can also use them to prevent debris such as leaves, twigs, and other debris from accumulating on top of your air conditioner coils.
  4. Cover the air conditioner when not in use: Use a plastic or fabric cover to cover the unit when it is not in use, ideally in the winter months. This helps protect the coils from dust and dirt. And protect the overall unit with dust filling.

The effect of dirty coils on energy efficiency

As dirt accumulates on the air conditioner coils, it acts like a blanket and reduces heat transfer. This means the air conditioner has to work harder to reach the desired temperature. The result is increased energy consumption and higher electricity bills. Not only this, when dirt builds up on the coils, they also become less efficient at removing moisture from the air. This causes discomfort when the humidity level in your home rises.

Apart from this, the accumulation of dirt and debris on the coils can cause reduced airflow and other problems such as blockages, freezing up of the unit, and may cause leaking water from the unit. This can harm the overall performance of the system and potentially lead to costly repairs or replacements.

Common signs that the coils need cleaning

  • Unusual noises coming from the air conditioner – If you notice any strange or loud noises coming from your air conditioner, it may be a sign that your coils need cleaning.
  • Poor airflow – If you are getting poor airflow from your vents, it may be a sign that the coils are blocked and need cleaning.
  • Increase in energy bills
  • Higher temperatures inside – If you’re noticing that the temperature inside your room is higher than usual, this could be a sign that the coils are dirty and need to be cleaned.
  • Musty smells – If you’ve noticed musty smells in the house, this could be a sign.
  • Ice on the coil – If you notice ice forming on the coils, it could be a sign that the coils are dirty.

The difference between cleaning and servicing the coils

Cleaning air conditioner coils is the process of removing dirt, dust, and other debris that accumulates over time. This can be done in a number of ways such as vacuuming, brushing or using a coil cleaner. Cleaning is usually done as part of routine maintenance to keep the coils running efficiently and smoothly.

Servicing an air conditioner’s coils involves more than just cleaning. This includes checking and repairing any damage to the coils, as well as inspecting and replacing any parts that have worn or corroded over time. This type of servicing is only recommended to be performed by a professional technician having the necessary experience and expertise. It should be done at least once a year.

FAQ: How to Clean Air Conditioner Coils?

This section of this post will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about how to clean air conditioner coils. For more information, read!

Q1. How often should I clean the air conditioner coils?

Ans: You should clean the air conditioner coils once a year or as needed. There are many factors, such as environment and usage that can affect the frequency of cleaning the coils.

Q2. Can I clean the coils myself or do I need a professional?

Ans: Yes, you can clean the air conditioner coil yourself. But it would be best if a qualified technician cleans the coils to ensure that the job is done properly and safely.

Q3. Can cleaning the coils improve the overall cooling performance of the unit?

Ans: Yes, cleaning the coils does improve the overall cooling performance of the unit. When coils are dirty, they can become clogged with dirt and debris, which can restrict airflow to the unit, causing your unit to perform poorly.

Q4. Are there any safety precautions I should take when cleaning the coils?

Ans: Yes, there are several safety precautions you should take when cleaning the air conditioner coils: First and foremost, you should be wearing protective gear, such as gloves, goggles and a mask. And also make sure not to damage any fins while cleaning.

Q5. How can I test the air flow after cleaning my air conditioner coils?

Ans: You can use an anemometer to test air flow through the unit. Measure the airflow before cleaning the coil and measure it again after you have completed cleaning and compare the results.

Conclusion: How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils?

Cleaning the air conditioner coils is a super important task and should be done on a regular basis for maximum output. A build-up of dirt and debris on the coils will restrict airflow to the unit, causing the unit to work harder and use more energy to cool the room. 

But before cleaning it is important to be aware of safety precautions and to wear gloves, goggles and a mask before cleaning the unit. It is also necessary to have a qualified technician for inspection. By following these steps, you can get the most out of your air conditioning unit.

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David Jack

David Jack

David Jack is a veteran when it comes to air conditioners, he love helping people find solutions to their problems with AC units. His specialty is helping people find the right Air-Conditioner for their needs, whether that means replacing a broken unit or adding on to an existing system. He is also great at diagnosing problems and fixing them quickly. He learned this from my father Jack Smith who was an air conditioner repairer, he has 2 years of experience in this field.

1 Comment
  1. Reading your article helped me a lot and I agree with you.

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