How to Clean HVAC Coils

Published by Home Service Stars on

How to clean HVAC coils

Learning how to clean HVAC coils can save you money in the long run by preventing damaging buildup out of the HVAC system. Keep reading to learn how to do it yourself, instead of having to hire an HVAC technician.

Getting Started

HVAC coils consist of two coils: the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. The evaporator coil is located indoors along with the duct work. The main purpose of the evaporator coil is to pull heat from the existing air to cool it or add heat to the air to heat it. It a versatile tool within the HVAC system, with refrigerant moving through the coil as air is pushing through it, resulting in cool warm air that is diffused throughout your home.

The condenser coil works to regulate the temperature of the refrigerant, which has a direct impact on the temperature of the output air. The refrigerant circulates within the condenser coils and changes the temperature before being sent into the evaporator coil. This condenser coil is typically located in your outdoor unit.

Why It’s Important To Clean HVAC Coils

It is important to clean your condenser coil because debris is sucked into your HVAC system and can impede the performance of the condenser coil. This makes it difficult for the condenser coil to properly pull heat from the air. Since it is working harder to transfer heat to the outside air, it won’t be as efficient. This lack of efficiency can be felt in a lack of cool air coming from your system during the summer, or warm, comfortable air coming from your system in the winter. HVAC coils cleaning is not hard – don’t get discouraged!

Your condenser coil should be cleaned at least once a year — more often if you live in dry, arid climates.

For the evaporator coil, 100% of the air that heats or cools your home will have to go through it. That means that a dirty evaporator coil will affect your HVAC system’s performance. Unfortunately, many homeowners who think that the HVAC system is failing are usually just suffering from an overly dirty evaporator coil. Evaporator coils should be cleaned once a year.

Identifying The HVAC Coils

The evaporator coil will be located on your AC unit. There will usually be an access panel that can be pried open or via unscrewing a set of screws. The evaporator coil will be organized into a frame that has two sides. The evaporator coil will look like a series of tubes encased in an aluminum grill.

The condenser coil is a bit more involved to get to. Turn off the air conditioner at the thermostat and shut off the source of electricity. There will usually be a toggle switch by the air handler to turn off the power. If your HVAC system does not have this, then turn off your air conditioner via the circuit breaker. The condenser coil will be located in the outside unit. The condenser coil looks like a series of tightly knit grills.

Cleaning HVAC Coils

Cleaning your condenser coils.

  1. Start by visually inspecting the coils. If you see significant damage, or mold growing on your condenser coils, then it is important to contact an HVAC technician. If you only see some debris or dirt, then continue forward.
  2. Remove any sort of debris with a coil brush. It is designed to get into the small nooks and crannies of the grill. This will remove most of the large particles, including leaves and grass that might’ve become lodged.
  3. Use a fin comb to straighten the outside coil fins. The coil fins could have been exposed to hail, falling debris, toys, and outdoor furniture. This will mis-align the coil fins. An adjustable fin comb is designed to straighten these fins out. A fin comb will also remove compacted debris.
  4. Wash the coils with a specialty coil cleaner. While you are free to use normal detergent, a coil cleaner foams up, effectively getting into the nooks and crannies. The coil cleaner will foam and then collect the dust and debris. After letting it sit for a couple of minutes, remove the residue with clean water.

Cleaning the evaporator coils:

  1. Remove the access panel to gain access to the evaporator coils. Usually, these are installed with 1/4 screws. With the help of a socket wrench, peel away at the metal foil tape on the panel edges.
  2. Remove the removable endplate. But keep in mind that if you have a slab coil, then removing the evaporator coil may be a bit more challenging and may require the specialty of an HVAC technician.
  3. Check for any dust and debris. Again, if you found any mold, then contact an HVAC contractor. They will treat the coil with a special biocide specifically made for evaporator coils.
  4. Use a specialty evaporator coil cleaner. The liquid cleaner will slowly drip off of the evaporator coil and collect in the condensate pan below.
  5. Once all of the cleaner has dripped from the evaporator coil, closely inspect it once more. You may need to wash it with an evaporator cleaner once more.
  6. Inspect the condensate pan. Since you already have the access panel off of your system, take the chance to look at the condensate pan. Clean any residue. To check for any pipe blockages, pour some water down the drain tube and make sure that the water that hits the pan is clear.

About Home Service Stars

Sometimes evaporator and condenser coils can be impacted with mold and mildew. Typical cleaners will not be adequate to remove these contaminants. You may also have an HVAC system or an AC unit that might have proprietary parts that require the specialized knowledge of an HVAC technician. Home Service Stars will connect you with an HVAC professional who is privy to the unique problems pertaining to your system. To learn more, find an HVAC repairman in your area today.


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