Plumbing & Cooling Experts in Spring, TX

Keeping Evaporator Coils Clean

Not everyone is an HVAC expert. In fact, we’d guess that even some of those claiming to be experts may come up a bit shy of the mark, but that’s another post for another time. The point here is that we don’t expect the average homeowner to necessarily understand the way in which his or her air conditioning system actually cools the house down. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of such processes, though. Especially when your AC means so much to you and the comfort of your family.

That is why we want to take some time today to explore the way in which the evaporator coil in your air conditioner works. Specifically, we want to discuss why a dirty evaporator coil is such a big problem. We know that you’re not wiping down your coil each day, nor should you be. It is still important that it is clean, though, so here is some info from the expert HVAC pros at Milton Frank Plumbing & Cooling.

What Does the Evaporator Coil Do?

Chances are that you know that your air conditioner contains something called refrigerant (Freon being a common alternative name, though one used far too broadly). This refrigerant serves as the heat transfer fluid in the air conditioning system, meaning that it is the freon that allows your system to transfer heat from inside your home out into the air outside. The evaporator coil plays an integral role in this heat transfer process — one that is impeded when the coil is dirty.

There are actually 2 coils in the air conditioning system that you use, with the other being the condenser coil. That one is outside, in the aptly named condenser unit. The evaporator coil is indoors, in the air handler unit. The evaporator is, again quite aptly, the point at which refrigerant evaporates in the system. When it does, it draws heat out of the air passing over that coil. The refrigerant then travels out to the condenser unit, where its heat is dispersed. This cycle continues until the desired temperature is attained.

How to Clean a Dirty Evaporator Coil

The first thing you should do is find your AC owner's manual to help you locate the access panel and evaporator coil. From there, you should:

  • Shut down your AC unit.
  • Loosen the fasteners/screw holding the access panel in place and keep them in a safe place.
  • Make sure you're wearing eye protection, and have a hand vacuum with you to clean up loose debris as it falls out of the AC unit.

If you're using compressed air:

  • Blow it in the opposite direction air typically flows through your unit.
  • In order to make sure the fins aren't damaged, either keep the compressed air blowing at a right angle or directly through the fins.
  • Keep the compressed air blowing at a constant rate to help prevent getting it trapped in the fins and leaving it in a more difficult position to clean.

If you're using a brush:

  • Make sure you're using a soft-bristle brush, or something similar. A hard-bristle or wire brush can damage the fins and cause you even more problems.

If you choose to use a commercial cleaner, make sure you follow the directions printed on the product exactly as listed. If the buildup is big enough that you don't feel comfortable tackling the problem yourself, then give us a call at (281) 645-5905 today to let the experts at Milton Frank Plumbing & Cooling lend a hand!

Why Is a Dirty Evaporator Coil a Problem?

Because dust, dirt, and grime all converge to create an insulating layer on that coil. That layer of dirt makes it harder for the coil and the refrigerant to evaporate within it to draw heat out of the air passing over that coil. This causes the system to work harder than it should have to, putting a strain on that system, increasing wear and tear, driving up cooling costs, and potentially putting the system at risk for damage. The coil can also grow cold enough to cause condensation collected on it to freeze, which only makes the insulation thicker and the complications worse.

Some homeowners may be comfortable enough to remove this coil and clean it on their own. However, we recommend that you simply enroll in our maintenance program, so that we can keep your system in the best working condition for you. You’ll enjoy some exclusive benefits while cooling your home successfully and protecting your comfort, your AC, and your budget in the process.


Call Milton Frank Plumbing & Cooling today at (281) 645-5905 or contact us online to learn more about the importance of regular HVAC maintenance services in Spring, TX!