Larry Cook

How to Know When to Clean AC Coils

As a homeowner or business owner with an air conditioner, you likely understanding the importance of keeping your air conditioner regularly maintained with an HVAC maintenance plan. It’s not uncommon for customers to ask our HVAC technicians questions, such as, “why clean air conditioner coils?” “when to clean ac coils?”, “what are symptoms of a dirty coil?” and, “does cleaning ac coils really help?”

Keeping air conditioner coils clean is very important and helps maintain indoor comfort, while also keeping an air conditioner running more efficiently, which can reduce the cost of energy bills. During spring and summer AC maintenance appointments, our service technicians check and clean customers’ air conditioner’s coils.

In this article, we cover the basics of air conditioner coils. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Clean Air Conditioner Coils

The coils within an air conditioner (and heat pump system) are an integral part of the HVAC system. In an outdoor unit, a condenser coil is working to remove heat from the refrigerant. Specifically, once refrigerant is pressurized in the compressor, the refrigerant enters the condenser coil. From there, the refrigerant will turn into a cool liquid. Most condenser coils are made up of copper tubing and thin aluminum strips called fins. 

Additionally, an evaporator coil is a component within an air conditioner (and heat pump) with the primary function of absorbing humidity and heat from the air. The evaporator coil works hand-in-hand with the condenser coil to provide cool air! 

Now you know what an important role coils have within HVAC systems. If the coils within your HVAC system are clogged with debris and dirt, then you’re likely experiencing less comfort, spending more money on utility bills than you should be – and, it’s just a matter of time before an AC repair will be necessary.

Not Cleaning Coils Leads to Problems

When you have time, take a look at your outdoor air conditioner coil. The air conditioner coil is the long tube shaped object with metal fins on the outside. If your coil isn’t cleaned on a regular basis, there is a good chance that it is dirty and requires care. Your air conditioner simply cannot cool your space as efficiently when it is dirty. Below is a brief list of common problems that arise from dirty coils.  

  • Increased Cooling Expenses. When an air conditioner isn’t operating efficiently, this means increased costs to operate the air conditioner (e.g., higher utility bills and AC repair bills).
  • Stress to System. Dirty coils with dirt and debris often cause an air conditioner’s fan and compressor to work harder than they should be. Compressors are one of the more expensive replacement parts within an air conditioning system, so taking the time to protect your coils can help you avoid a costly repair.
  • Wear and Tear to System. Because dirty coils cause overall stress to an air conditioning system, the entire air conditioning system is working harder than it should be, undergoing increased wear and tear. If you don’t regularly clean your air conditioner’s coils, don’t be surprised if your air conditioner’s life span is short.
  • Decreased Comfort. Air conditioning systems have the important role of removing humidity from the air as part of their cooling process. Dirty coils can cause higher humidity levels due to the fact that dirty coils reduce an air conditioner’s overall performance. 

Wondering how to tell if AC coils are dirty? If your utility bills have been increasing, your AC unit seems to be running for long periods of time for no reason, and/or your home doesn’t feel like it is being cooled properly, then you should be aware that these symptoms are just a few of the warning signs that could be pointing to dirty AC coils. 

How Often You Need Your AC Coil’s Cleaned

We hear customers ask “how often should I clean AC coils?” Well, the answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, such as, the location of your air conditioner, how often you change your filters, and the amount of debris and dust inside and outside of your home.

Experienced HVAC professionals would recommend that HVAC systems be maintained every season (spring, summer, fall and winter), or at the very least, twice a year. During the spring and summer months, experienced HVAC technicians should complete a comprehensive air conditioner check-up which should include items such as, cleaning the condenser coils, lubricating HVAC system parts as necessary, and inspection of electrical connections. Regular maintenance of your air conditioner and heater will help extend the lifetime of the system, saving you money and unnecessary stress.

Contact an Air Conditioning Expert for Help

Dirty coils? The best solution is to hire an HVAC professional. HVAC maintenance is an investment that helps extend an AC’s lifespan, increase energy efficiency, decreases operating costs, and gives you optimal comfort. Keep in mind, hiring a professional is also important because air conditioner coils are susceptible to damage if not cared for properly. 

Contact Larry Cook Heating & Cooling today to learn about how we can help keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape all year long.

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