Reliable air conditioning is something we tend to take for granted… until all of a sudden it’s not reliable anymore.
It’s tempting to hope that you can start up your AC and everything works perfectly. But if you want that to happen, you need to take steps to make sure your air conditioner can handle the hot summer days. That includes cleaning the AC coil.
Read on to learn more about this important component of your air conditioner, why it’s so vulnerable, and how cleaning it can have a huge impact on your summer comfort, your energy bills, and even the quality of the air you breathe.
What’s so important about cleaning the AC coil anyway?
Your air conditioner’s coils have an important job to do; actually, a couple of important jobs. They are some of the most critical parts of the system and cleaning the AC coil is necessary for reliable operation of your system.
There are 2 types of coils in your air conditioning system:
The evaporator coil, which absorbs the heat and humidity from the air in your home or commercial space. The evaporator coil is part of an indoor air handling unit.
The condenser coil, which releases that heat outside the building. The condenser coil is usually located in an outdoor unit, or in a mechanical room with access to outside air.
Both AC coils, as the name implies, look like coiled tubes. The tubes contain refrigerant, and have fins on the outside that augment the heat transfer process.
Those coils have a lot of surface area for dirt and debris to build up on the coils. And that can happen in a hurry, especially to the condenser coil that’s located outside and exposed to all the outdoor smog and pollution in the outdoor air.
Even the indoor evaporator coil is exposed to a great deal of dust from indoor air; the problem is compounded if you don’t change your air filters regularly.
Not cleaning your AC coil reduces comfort
Cleaning the AC coil is important because when those surfaces get covered in grime, the heat transfer process doesn’t work as well. Heat gets trapped inside the condenser coil and can’t be released. And heat from the air in your space can’t be as readily absorbed by the evaporator coil.
Both of these situations cause your AC unit to run longer and work harder trying to cool your space.
When your AC unit isn’t able to effectively absorb and release heat, it doesn’t take long before you’ll begin to notice a decrease in performance. Your unit will have trouble reaching set temperature, and even more trouble removing humidity. Instead of cool, comfortable conditions, you’ll be faced with warm and muggy air in your space.
Not cleaning the AC coil reduces system life & reliability
With the coils caked in grime and unable to release heat effectively, your system has to work harder. That means it’s starting up more often than usual and running for a longer period of time. After a while, it may begin to run constantly.
All that extra work increases the wear and tear on the system and its parts, and eventually leads to breakdowns.
If your AC system has been having repeated repair issues and you have neglected regular maintenance and cleaning the AC coil, this could explain your problems. Taking care of your equipment helps parts work better and last longer, and can actually increase the life span of your system by years.
Not cleaning the AC coil increases your energy bills
When your system is running more frequently, it’s using more electricity in the process, and driving up your energy expenses.
Related article: Clean HVAC System Condenser Coils = Lower Energy Bills
Not cleaning the AC coil impacts your indoor air quality
When your dirty coils lead to decreased system performance and warm, muggy air in your space, you can begin to experience air quality problems.
Too much humidity is much more than a comfort issue; it can seriously impact your health. Humidity above 50 percent or so can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, high concentrations of dust mites that can aggravate asthma and allergies, and even the growth and spread of bacteria and viruses.
Damp air can also cause damage to the furniture and finishes in your space.
Related article: HVAC System Maintenance, Humidity and Poor Indoor Air Quality
How to tell when it’s time to clean the AC coil
If you’re wondering how to tell if cleaning your AC coil is needed, take a look at your outdoor unit. If it hasn’t been cleaned in a while, it probably looks pretty nasty!
Experts typically recommend cleaning the AC coil 2 times a year, as part of a regular HVAC maintenance plan. But if you’re in an area with particularly poor air quality, it’s possible you may need it more often. Here are some of the factors that affect how frequently you should be cleaning your AC coil:
Where your equipment is located. If it’s close to the street and exposed to vehicle exhaust, or exposed to construction dust and debris or kitchen or industrial exhaust, you’ll need to be cleaning your AC coil more often.
Its age and condition. Older equipment that may have some corrosion on the coils can accumulate dirt and debris faster. Also, you’ll want to inspect it more often in case it begins to develop refrigerant leaks.
Its workload. If the equipment is running 24/7 in a high-occupancy space, it will accumulate debris faster than one used less frequently.
Cleaning your AC coil is a quick and easy step you can take to ensure the reliable, lasting performance of your air conditioner. As a result, you’ll enjoy consistent comfort, better air quality in your space, and even lower repair and energy bills.
Want to learn more about coil cleaning? Grab your free copy of this informative Guide to Air Conditioner Coil Cleaning: Why, When, and How.