Preventive Maintenance Agreements, Residential HVAC
AC Losing Its Cool? Try Air Conditioning Coil Cleaning
It is definitely not cool when your air conditioning system has a meltdown during a heat wave. This cooling season, take steps to prevent air conditioner breakdowns.
For example, your AC not cooling well might be because your AC coils are clogged and you need air conditioner cleaning. Let’s take a look at how air conditioning coil cleaning can help you system work better.
What are air conditioning coils and why is air conditioner cleaning important?
There are two types of coils that are vital to the operation of your air conditioning system: evaporator and condenser coils. If either are not turning in peak performance, it could be the reason for your AC not cooling your space. That’s a signal that your system needs an air conditioning coil cleaning. Let’s look at the function of the evaporator and the condenser coils.
The evaporator coil absorbs heat and humidity from your space, and is part of the air handler unit (indoor air conditioning unit). The condenser coil (located in the outdoor unit) releases the excess heat from your home or building to the outdoors. The condenser coil is particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of weather, dirt, soot and other outside pollutants. The chance of dirty coils increases if you live in the city and your outdoor unit is at street level.
Here’s a fact that reveals 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, your system’s efficiency will decline by 5-percent. When efficiency declines, there is less cooling power and a higher electric bill!
Learn more: A Guide to Air Conditioner Coil Cleaning: Why, How, and How Often.
Warning: Dust is the enemy of your air conditioner
Every home and business is afflicted by the tiniest of intruders–often difficult to capture as they blow through room to room – dust bunnies. Isn’t it hard to believe this nuisance can 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.
Dust is 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 hurt 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)
This chain of events doesn’t work as well when your coils are dirty and you need an air conditioning coil cleaning. Here’s why:
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 the coils that absorbs and releases heat. This extra layer acts like an insulator and makes heat transfer less effective. Poor heat transfer diminishes the efficiency of your cooling cycles and makes your unit run longer, hotter, and with more pressure to produce an adequate cooling level.
Sometimes, sulfur in soot can cause corrosion of the condenser’s tubes. Corrosion causes cracks and holes in the coils and eventually refrigerant leaks. Without enough refrigerant, your air conditioner can’t cool effectively.
What else can happen if you neglect air conditioning coil cleaning?
What you’re probably most concerned about is your comfort. When your air conditioner coils are dirty, your air conditioner won’t do a good job of keeping you comfortable.
When coils are covered in dirt, heat gets trapped inside the condenser coil. The evaporator coil will have difficulty absorbing the heat. The end result is your system will work longer and harder to cool your space. The system will struggle to reach the set temperature and remove humidity from the air. You will notice a drop in air quality and sticky air in your home. Remember, too much humidity can promote the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria.
Some other problems that can occur if you do not have regular air conditioning coil cleaning:
- Impeded airflow throughout the system
- Decreased refrigerant levels
- Ice forming on evaporator coils
- Overheated compressor
- Higher utility bills
How to tell when it’s time for air conditioning coil cleaning
As a rule of thumb, HVAC experts recommend air conditioner cleaning at least once or twice annually. If you have a HVAC maintenance plan, the air conditioning coil cleaning should be included in your service contract. However, you might need to schedule 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. If it’s located near a restaurant or a manufacturing business, kitchen or industrial exhaust could be making your system dirty faster. 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. Corrosion is a magnet for more dirt and debris. Additionally, it’s smart 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 conditioner 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 a poorly performing system, doesn’t it make sense to schedule air conditioning coil cleaning on a regular basis? To get the most out of your system, 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 the parts.
- Your system will have fewer breakdowns with regular air conditioning coil cleaning, because your system will not have to work as hard to achieve the comfort levels you want.
- Clean coils will help your wallet because energy bills will be lower. With clean coils, the system runs less which uses less electricity.
Regular air conditioning coil cleaning is a simple and inexpensive way to bolster reliability, save on repairs, maintain consistent comfort, and save on energy bills.