Knowing how to clean your evaporator coils inside the house is an important part of properly maintaining your air conditioning system.
Evaporator coils tend to build up dirt and debris over time, which may eventually cause the system to freeze up or corrode. Coils should be cleaned regularly to ensure that they stay in excellent condition and free of leaks.
What Do I need to Clean AC Evaporator Coils?
The first thing you need to do when cleaning your evaporator coils is to gather the proper tools for the job. If you make a habit of cleaning your coils often, you may only need a soft bristle brush, a rag, or some compressed air.
However, if you have not cleaned your coils often, you will need some solvent and a soft bristle brush to get the job done. You will also need a screwdriver or ratchet to gain access to the coils.
At this point, cut the power to your system before you start cleaning. You can do this either by flipping the breaker in your breaker panel or by finding the power switch located near the air handler. It usually looks like a light switch inside of a grey box, located in the attic.
Next, you need to find the coils themselves. The coils are located on top of the air handler inside your house. Usually, this is located in an attic or closet. The top of the system will have an access panel held in place by a couple of screws and may have tape covering the edges to keep the area sealed off properly.
Just remove the tape and screws, and open up the box compartment. Inside, you should see the coils, which usually look like an A-Frame with radiators on either side and many tubes running in loops. These are the coils.
Inspect Your Coils First!
You should always inspect your coils before you clean to see how much buildup has occurred. If there is a lot of build up, you will probably want to start cleaning your coils monthly or quarterly during the hottest season of the year. If you see any signs of mold, you will want to call a technician who can treat the system to ensure the mold is not being spread throughout your home.
Next, you can use compressed air to gently blow large particles of debris and dirt out of the coils. Any debris that is stuck can be worked away using your soft bristle brush. Make sure you are not using a metal or wire brush because it can damage the coils.
Once you get most of the loose dirt removed, you can use an AC cleaning solvent or a mix of water and dish detergent to spray the coils off. You should be able to spray them down, let it sit, and then rinse the coils with water after a few minutes. The water will run down into the drip pan below, so you don’t have to worry about cleanup.
After you have rinsed the coils, give them a few minutes to dry off, and then inspect them for any remaining signs of dirt or debris. While you’re here, you might want to inspect the drain hole at the bottom that leads to the drip pan.
Pouring a capful of bleach down the hole will keep the lines clear and prevent mold. You can also use a pipe cleaner to gently clean the line and prevent blockage. Once everything is all clear, you can reinstall the access panel, tighten the screws, and re-seal the box with tape to keep as much dirt out of the coils as possible.
Turn Your AC Back On
Now that you’ve done the hard part, you can turn your air conditioner back on and enjoy fresh, cool air once more. The whole cleaning process shouldn’t take long, as long as you can find your coils and get to them. Remember, you should always put things back the way you found them, including all of the aluminum tape that seals the lines and box. You don’t want to create a leak in the system by leaving something loose.
Now that you know how to clean an evaporator coil, you can inspect your system regularly for signs of dirt. By keeping your evaporator coils clean, your system will work more effectively and efficiently, and you can save yourself lots of money on power bills and repairs in the long run. Just a few short minutes a couple times a year is all it takes to keep your coils sparkling clean.
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