How to Clean an Evaporator Coil

How to Clean an Evaporator Coil | The importance of cleaning an evaporated coil | Motili

When a client’s AC breaks down, HVAC contractors are the first people they call after trying to troubleshoot the issue themselves. Sometimes it could have to do with the compressor or air filter, which are important parts of an HVAC. 

But another essential part that may need your expertise is the evaporator coil. We’ll discuss what it is, its importance to an HVAC unit, and how to clean it during your next maintenance call.

 

What Is an Evaporator Coil?

An evaporator coil is a component in an AC system that absorbs heat and moisture from inside a residential or commercial property. It’s usually attached to the furnace or inside an air handler and works with the condenser coil to create cool air, completing the heat exchange cycle.

Here’s a brief outline of how it works:

  • Refrigerant runs through the coils while they absorb heat
  • The absorbed heat moves from the evaporator coil and other parts of the AC until it’s released outside through the condenser coil

 

Why Is It So Important?

The evaporator coil is essential to air conditioner functionality because it helps it maintain efficiency. When coils are dirty, they can cause your system to work harder, increasing energy bills and decreasing its lifespan, which would also increase its carbon footprint.

Furthermore, poorly maintained coils can have other issues such as:

  • Coils freezing over
  • An overheating compressor
  • Reduction in heat transfer

 

How Do You Clean an Evaporator Coil?

While customers may try to handle this task themselves, it is best for contractors to complete it. That’s because you’re more aware of the ins and outs of an air conditioning unit and wouldn’t cause issues during maintenance. But before you begin, you’ll need a few items that include:

  • Protective eyewear
  • A mask
  • A soft bristle brush
  • Coil cleaner
  • Screwdriver, socket wrench, or nut driver

 

Here’s how you start cleaning evaporator coils:

  1. Switch off the air conditioner and air handling unit to avoid a hazardous situation
  2. Next, remove the access panel with your tools to gain access to the evaporator coil
    • As you remove parts, try keeping them together to ensure you don’t lose anything
  3. Inspect the coil to see where debris has accumulated
  4. Use a soft bristle brush to clear dirt that remains on the coils; apply some pressure, but try to avoid using too much, so you don’t damage the fins
    • Before using the brush, place a piece of cardboard underneath to catch the debris taken off the fins
  5. Spray the cleaner and let it sit for a small period; professional applications are highly recommended
  6. After the cleaner has done its job, you can rinse the coils with water
    • Sometimes the debris may not come off after the first try; apply the cleaner until the coils meet your standards
  7. Finally, reattach the access panel and switch the unit back on

Sometimes the AC fins may get bent as you’re cleaning. Don’t worry; if you have a fin comb in your toolbox, you can fix them without any issues. Once they’re straightened, you’ve successfully finished cleaning the evaporator coils.

However, you can also provide residential and business owners with preventative maintenance tips regarding evaporator coils, such as:

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