As heat waves start hitting the US, or continue, it’s important to remember to clean your A/C coils. I’ve known about this, but when I tried to open my compressor for the first time since purchasing my house almost 3 years ago, I couldn’t get the side panel off and decided just to have it generally maintenances. Sure enough he found a whole thick layer of dust and dirt on the coils. I immediately saw a lower wattage usage on my condenser after cleaning, a 35% REDUCTION! Now that didn’t stay and returned to previous levels, so not sure if that 2,000w pull was a mistake or what, but this is a general reminder to clean your coils once a year.
A little more for the DIY people: ALWAYS turn off the power at the unit or the breaker or both, be safe!
There are DIY instructions & videos on the internet for coil cleaning, some are saying to use soap. PLEASE DON’T use soap, get a good quality “condenser coil cleaning solution” to use, some come in spray bottles, I buy a gallon and have a garden sprayer used only for coil cleaning. Many hardware stores will carry the right products.
The problem is this; the condenser fins pick up and hold dirt and dust, soap leaves a film in the fins that attracts and holds dust.
The coils and fins are copper and aluminum, you don’t want a corrosive agent either, Just get the right product. Spray on a good amount and let soak a few minutes, rinse thoroughly with a garden hose,
I’m an HVACR tech so I remove the covers and spray from the inside to the outside but the DIY type can effectively clean without removing covers.
Adding a little more.
When cleaning the coils be very careful not to bend the fins. Whatever you do DO NOT use a pressure washer, high powered hose nozzle or stiff brush. Lightly bent fins can be straightened with a fin comb but it is usually best left for a professional with experience especially when extensively bent. Bent fins restrict airflow and reduce efficiency of the unit. A very soft brush can be used to remove debris such as grass clippings and pet hair while again being careful not to bend the thin soft metal fins. Coil cleaner can be bought in aerosol cans from most hardware stores (Lowes, Home Depot, etc…).
If you do not feel comfortable or simply don’t want to clean the coils yourself most any HVAC contractor offers this service.
Cleaning the coils can greatly improve efficiency by improving airflow which improves heat dissipation and can greatly extend the overall life of your equipment.