The condenser coil is a common and essential component in a variety of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) devices. Often called a heating coil, it is used to facilitate the phase conversion of refrigerants in many industrial machines. When used in conjunction with an evaporator coil, it cools the air and makes an air conditioner. Such a versatile piece of machinery deserves to be treated with care and respect, and should be cleaned at least once annually.
If you do not want to clean the unit out of reverence, then at least do it for your own benefit. Central air conditioners stay outside all year long and are able to withstand the elements, but they do accumulate some debris over time. This junk is not good for the air conditioner, and can result in a weaker, less efficient performance, which means higher electric bills by as high as 35%. If left untreated, the debris can also require replacement parts, another pricey side effect.
Central air units are divided into two parts. Inside the house is a box housing the AC evaporator coil, and outdoor is the component which contains the condenser. Both should be regularly cleaned and maintained to avoid coil replacement, but these tips are specifically for outdoor component care.
Cleaning the Coil
- Before starting, be sure to cut power to the AC unit.
- For your protection, you should wear a dust mask and safety glasses. Though you may not be able to see it, there is often a great deal of caked-on pollen and other nasty particles you don’t want a face-full of.
- To begin, use a broom or brush to gently get rig of debris like grass and dust from the unit’s fins. They are very fragile, so brush in the same direction as the fins to avoid bending or damaging them.
- This step has you working with some chemicals, so put on rubber gloves. Spray the coil tray with coil cleaner, which is available at most home improvement stores. Let the spray sit for five to ten minutes, then wash it off with soft-spraying hose. A high pressure spray could be too strong for the fins and damage them.
- Technically, you’re done. Congratulations!. However, since you’re already working on your outdoor unit, you might as well grab a fin comb or even just a flat screwdriver to carefully straighten out any bent fins you see.
- Turn the power back on.
Now that you know the specifics of cleaning your unit, here are some ways to stop it from getting as clogged in the future.
- Regularly mow or trim grass growing near your AC unit.
- While your unit may seem like a bit of an eyesore, do not cover it up. It should have a few feet of free space in all directions.
- If the unit is under a tree, make sure the branches are well-maintained, as well. The unit should have around five feet of vertical clearance.
- Don’t be afraid to call in a professional if you think something is wrong or you have questions.