Tips For Checking And Cleaning Your Central AC's Condenser And Evaporator Coils

A central air conditioner's functionality relies on a refrigerant chemical that changes between a gas and a liquid as it moves through the system. Breaks, bends, or dirt can leave these coils less capable of conducting the phase changes and thwart your cooling. You can perform a visual check and simple cleaning on the coils yourself, but you should always leave the heavier tasks to an air conditioning repairs service.

Checking and Cleaning Condenser Coils

The condenser coils take in gas refrigerant pumped out by the compressor and change the gas into a liquid. The phase change process requires a carefully calibrated set of conditions, which include a nearby motorized fan that ensures the surface of the coils don't become too hot during the chemical reaction. If the condenser coils break or the surface becomes clogged with dirt, the calibration of the reaction changes and can become less efficient.

You can check the condition of the coils by turning off the electricity of the unit using the circuit breaker or fuse box and then opening the access panel for the condensing unit. Locate the coils along the interior wall and conduct a visual inspection for signs of bends or breaks. If you see physical damage to the coils, you should call an HVAC tech immediately to replace the coils.

If there aren't any signs of physical damage but you do see dirt, you can carefully conduct a cleaning though you should call in an HVAC if you are at all nervous about the process. Use a stiff brush but a gentle hand motion to scrape the dirt off the surface of the coils. Carefully point a garden hose at the coils, pointing from inside the unit so that most of the excess water goes outside the case, and rinse the coils clean of any remaining debris.

Checking and Cleaning Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils receive the liquid refrigerant created by the condenser coils. The evaporator coils, which are located inside your house in the furnace, change that refrigerant back into gas in a process that makes the surface of the coils cold. That cold surface is what chills passing air and makes your home comfortable during the summer.

Evaporator coils can become broken or dirty, as with condenser coils, but can also become frozen if the refrigerant is too low or if the nearby blower fan isn't functioning properly. If you keep noticing ice on the coils, call in a service tech to conduct testing. You also want to call a service tech if you notice bends or breaks in the evaporator coils.

You can clean dirty evaporator coils using a foaming coil cleanser you can find at most hardware stores. Follow the package instructions for application advice and wait times. You won't need to rinse off the cleanser since it will drip harmlessly into the drain pan at the bottom of the unit that collects the condensate created during cooling and leads into a drainpipe. For assistance, talk to a professional like HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric.