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Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC

AC Losing Its Cool? Try Air Conditioning Coil Cleaning


air conditioning coil cleaning

As the owner of a luxury home or someone who manages high-end properties, you might know firsthand that it is definitely not cool when your air conditioning system experiences a meltdown during a heat wave. There are things you can do to prevent such an unwelcome event that could cause you to lose your cool figuratively and literally.

One of the top reasons for your AC not cooling satisfactorily is your system may be in dire need of a good air conditioning coil cleaning. Let’s take a look at why your AC not cooling your home adequately could be because an air conditioning coil cleaning is overdue.

What are the air conditioning coils and why are they important?

There are two types of coils that are vital to the proper operation of your air conditioning system and if either one of the two are not turning in a peak performance, it could be the reason for your AC not cooling your space and signal that your system is ripe for an air conditioning coil cleaning. Let’s look at the primary function of the evaporator and the condenser coils.

The evaporator coil absorbs heat and humidity from your space. The condenser coil is the component of an air conditioning unit responsible for releasing the excess heat from your home or building to the outdoors. It is particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of weather, dirt, soot and other outside detriments because the condenser coil is normally part of an outdoor unit. The chances of dirty coils is ratcheted up if you live in the city and your outdoor unit is at street level.

To give you some idea about how important clean coils are to the effective operation of your system, if 1/100th of an inch of dirt and grime accumulates on your air conditioner’s condenser coil, efficiency will decline by 5-percent.

Learn more: A Guide to Air Conditioner Coil Cleaning: Why, How, and How Often.

Coil Cleaning Could Save You Big $$$. Download the Free Guide

Warning: Dust is the mightiest of mites

Every homeowner is afflicted by the tiniest of feather weight intruders–often difficult to capture as they blow through room to room – dust bunnies. Isn’t it hard to believe this transient nuisance plaguing our homes can cause so many problems and cause the downfall of our air condition systems? According to the University of Missouri Healthcare, the average U.S. home accumulates 40 pounds of dust annually, which makes dust one of your air conditioning system’s most formidable enemies.

In addition to accumulating on coils, dust can clog your ducts which decreases your system’s effectiveness and causes air quality problems.

Learn more: Poor Air Flow from Your AC? Check for Duct Problems

Can dirty coils foil your air conditioning system’s reliability?

You might be wondering how coils could be the culprit behind your AC not cooling. Furthermore, you might be asking yourself, can air conditioning coil cleaning really make my system cool again? Here’s a simplified look at how your air conditioning coils work:

  • Cold refrigerant travels through the evaporator coil.
  • Your system’s blower transports warm air from inside your home across the evaporator coil.
  • The refrigerant in the evaporator coil absorbs the heat from the air.
  • The treated cool air is blown through ducts to your living space.
  • Next, the refrigerant makes its way to the outdoor condenser coil.
  • The condenser coil removes the heat from the refrigerant.
  • The outdoor condenser unit blows air over the coils and the heat is released.

Learn more about how your AC system works: How AC Works (The basics you must know)

So, how are these chain of events impeded when you need an air conditioning coil cleaning?

When your air conditioning coils are caked in dirt and grime, there is an added layer between the air that’s blown over the coils and the refrigerant inside that absorbs and releases heat. In effect, this extra layer acts like an insulator and inhibits the transfer of heat. This diminishes the efficiency of your cooling cycles and results in your unit running longer, hotter and with more pressure to reach an adequate cooling level. Sometimes, elevated levels of sulfur in soot can lead to the corrosion of the condenser’s tubes, which eventually can cause a system failure.

What else can happen if air conditioning coil cleaning has been neglected?

What you’re probably most concerned about is your comfort and dirty coils can curtail your comfort. When coils are covered in dirt, heat gets trapped inside the condenser coil and is not released. The evaporator coil will have difficulty absorbing the heat. The end result is your system will work longer and harder to cool your home. Over time when your system is not effectively absorbing and releasing heat, you will see an operational decline. The system will struggle to reach the set temperature and remove humidity from the air. You will eventually notice a drop in air quality and sticky air in your home. Too much humidity can promote the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria.

Some other problems that can occur if you do not have a routine air conditioning coil cleaning:

  • Impeded airflow throughout the system
  • Inconsistent refrigerant levels
  • Ice forming on evaporator coils
  • Overheated compressor
  • Inefficient operation resulting in increased utility bills

How do I tell it’s time for an air conditioning coil cleaning?

As a rule of thumb, HVAC experts recommend that an air conditioning coil cleaning be undertaken once or twice annually. If you have a HVAC maintenance plan, the air conditioning coil cleaning should be included in your service contract. However, there are mitigating factors, which could mean you need to schedule an air conditioning coil cleaning more often. Let’s take a look at the reasons you might have to step up your air conditioning coil cleaning appointments:

Location. Location. Location. If your outside unit is located near the street, it will be exposed to vehicle exhaust or if it’s located near a restaurant or a manufacturing business, it could be subject to kitchen or industrial exhaust. At ground level it will more likely be the victim of blowing debris, dirt and foliage. Also, pay attention to temporary circumstances that could produce more dust and dirt such as nearby construction.

It’s not as young as it used to be. Sometimes older equipment shows its age by the formation of corrosion on the coils and corrosion is a magnet for dirt and debris. Additionally, it’s prudent to check older equipment more frequently to guard against refrigerant leaks.

It has no downtime. If your air conditioning is running 24/7, dirt and debris will collect on the coils more rapidly, so you may want to schedule an air conditioning coil cleaning more than twice annually.

Reap benefits through timely air conditioning coil cleaning

Did you know that the number one cause for the failure of an air conditioning system is a lack of preventative maintenance? If dirty coils can be the primary reason for the operational decline of your system, doesn’t it make sense to schedule air conditioning coil cleaning on a regular basis? If you want to get the most out of your system, you will have an HVAC professional routinely conduct an air conditioning coil cleaning. What’s at stake if you neglect regular air conditioning coil cleaning?

  • Clean coils will extend the life of your system because there is less wear and tear on a system that is operating efficiently.
  • Your system will experience fewer breakdowns if air conditioning coil cleaning is made a priority because your system will not have to work as hard and as long to achieve optimum comfort levels.
  • Clean coils will help your wallet because energy bills will be lower. As said before, if your coils are clean, the system will not have to work as long or as hard, which means less electricity is used.

Regular air conditioning coil cleaning is a simple and inexpensive way to bolster reliability and save on repairs, maintain consistent comfort and air quality and save on energy bills.