If you’ve ever wondered if you should have your air conditioning unit cleaned, the short answer to this is, “yes.” Your air conditioner simply can’t function as efficiently and effectively as it is meant to if the components on the inside are dirty. This starts, of course, with changing your air filter.
Now you might be wondering; “Isn’t my AC filter meant to protect the purity of the air inside my home?”
No, that air filter—which comes standard with your HVAC system upon installation—is in place to protect the inside components of your system from dirt, debris, and other contaminants that can impact AC performance. You should be changing your air filter every 1-3 months during periods of use, depending on the amount of use and type of unit you have—the more it is used and the more contaminants in the home the more often it should be changed.
Protect Your AC Coils
When we’re talking about your air conditioner’s internal components, we’re mainly referring to its coils. The coils are very important and often forgotten about a piece of the unit. There are usually two in the cooling system—the evaporator coil located within your home inside the air handler unit, and the condenser coil located outdoors in the condenser unit. If either of these coils is caked up with too much dirt, contaminants, or debris, you can have some major problems heading your way.
What Do These Coils Do, Exactly?
What many homeowners don’t really understand about air conditioners is exactly how they work. They may imagine that a cooling system creates cool air, but this just isn’t possible. Your air conditioner removes heat from the air inside your home, disperses that heat outdoors, and recirculates cool air provided by the coils, throughout your home. This entire process is dependent on the completion of the refrigerant cycle, which relies on the coils!
The evaporator coil is where the refrigerant evaporates into gas form. This allows the refrigerant and the coil to draw heat out of the air passing over the coil. Then, the refrigerant travels out to the condenser unit, where the condenser coil and the fins of the unit help dissipate the heat. Then, the cycle restarts until the desired temperature is met and maintained in your living space.
Why These Coils Must Stay Clean?
The heat transfer process suffers if these coils are too dirty. For instance, is the evaporator is too dirty, the AC system will struggle to draw an appropriate amount of heat out of the air, leaving the AC working overtime in order to cool your home, increasing wear and tear on the system (not to mention increasing your cooling costs) while your home comfort decreases.
The evaporator coil itself can also get too cold, causing condensation collected upon it to freeze up. This layer of ice further complicates the issue.
If the condenser coil is dirty—potentially covered with grass clippings from mowing the lawn or surrounded by dead leaves/fallen branches, etc.—then it’s going to struggle to release heat into the air surrounding the unit. Some effort is already required when the outside air is hot, to begin with, so a dirty condenser coil makes things harder than necessary for the system.
The good news is, cleaning your AC is the main part of professional maintenance. So if you’re worried about the condition and cleanliness of your cooling system, just be sure to stay on top of your annual maintenance sessions!
For your air conditioning to work efficiently, it must be able to transfer heat from inside your home to the outside effectively. A coating of dirt, dust, and other debris on the A/C coils can prevent this, by insulating the coils from the surrounding air and reducing the efficiency of the heat transfer process. To minimize energy usage and reduce utility costs, the A/C coils should be cleaned at least once a year.
The Importance of Clean A/C Coils
It is estimated that dirty evaporator and condenser coils can increase the energy usage of your air conditioning system by over 30 percent. Additionally, reduced heat transfer efficiency can cause other problems, such as poor cooling performance, frozen evaporator coils, and compressor overheating.
How to Prevent Dirty Coils
To keep the evaporator coils clean, it is important to check the air filter at least once a month and replace it as necessary. A dirty air filter can allow dust and debris to accumulate on the evaporator instead of the air filter, and it can also reduce airflow in the system, leading to other problems. To keep the condenser coils clean, keep an area of two feet around the condenser unit clean of vegetation and debris, including trash, tall grass, plants, and overhanging trees or bushes. Remove large debris as it falls into the condenser coils, and when mowing, be sure to discharge clippings away from the condenser.
Cleaning the AC Coils
The fins on the evaporator and condenser coils are extremely delicate and can be bent with very little force. It is best to leave the majority of the cleaning to an air conditioning contractor, who will clean the coils during a routine maintenance visit. Ideally, air conditioning maintenance should be performed twice a year, though once is sufficient for some systems. Between visits, the condenser coils can be cleaned by removing large debris and rinsing the coils with a hose, after shutting the power off. The evaporator is often difficult to access and should be cleaned professionally.
To have your A/C coils inspected and cleaned, contact our team at Aztil Air Conditioning. We proudly serve all of West Palm Beach, Naples, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, and all of the South Florida neighborhoods. Our fleet of over 100 trucks allows providing 24-hour emergency services to all of our customers with the fastest response time in the state.