Having Your Air Conditioning Coils Cleaned Regularly Increases Efficiency and Life
Air conditioning units include two coils, the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. Proper maintenance and cleaning of these coils is paramount to effective and efficient functioning of the air conditioning unit.
Air Handler Coil
Inside the home is the air handler, and within this unit resides the evaporator coil. This coil absorbs the heat from the air within the home, sending cooler air out in its place. These coils are partially protected by air conditioning filters, which should be replaced ever 30-90 days. But despite filtering, dirt and debris from the air flowing over the coils does land on the coil. It is important to clean off this dirt to keep the evaporator coil functioning properly, and ensure proper cooling of the building.
Outside the home is the air conditioning condenser. This unit includes a condenser coil, which takes the warm air that has been removed from the building and blows it off into the outside environment. These condenser coils are open to the elements; while this is necessary for proper air flow, it also means that these coils can get filthy with dirt and debris, including leaves, grass clippings, germs, and bugs.
The Horrors of Dirty Coils
Dirty coils are less efficient at transferring heat. Thus, the entire air conditioning unit has to work harder in order to cool the building. This puts additional strain on the unit, which can cause early unit failure, or insufficient cooling. In addition to causing early unit break down, dirty coils can actually reduce the energy efficiency of a cooling system by 30 percent.
Keeping Coils Clean
Keeping the indoor coil of the air handler clean usually requires an air conditioning professional. This coil is usually buried inside the unit, behind the filter or an access panel. The coil is very delicate, and needs to be cleaned with the proper amount of air pressure and cleaning solution. Evaporator core cleaning, if done regularly from the time the coil is new and clean, can be done simply with a soft bristle brush, or low pressure forced air. Once the coil becomes more contaminated, a mild cleaning solution may need to be applied; this solution is left to sit for five minutes, then rinsed away.
Cleaning of this coil should be done at least once a year in areas where the cooling season lasts four to six months, more often in areas or buildings where the cooling is done more often. It is also important to remember to change the filter regularly, which will help keep the coil cleaner, and increase air flow to the unit, increasing efficiency.
To keep the outdoor coil in the condenser healthy, and to ensure long term cooling of the building, it is imperative to keep the area around the coil free of debris. It is also important to clean the coil itself, at least every other season, preferably every season if the air conditioning is run for more than four months out of the year.
When neglected, air conditioning coils can become severely contaminated, actually resulting in degradation of the coil, and eventual failure of the entire cooling system. But, with regular maintenance, your air conditioning system can do its best at cooling your home, and can last you a very long time.
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