One of the most common reasons for an air conditioner becoming energy inefficient and driving up bills is due to a dirty condenser coil. This coil is located in the outdoor unit of an air conditioner (the condenser) and it’s responsible for releasing the heat the refrigerant absorbed from the inside of the house. A fan draws the warm outdoor air across the coil, causing condensation to occur that deposits the heat from the refrigerant to the outdoors. If there is dirt, dust, or other grime along the coil, it’s much harder for this heat release to happen because of the insulating effect. Dirty coils can use up as much as 37% more energy than clean coils—that’s a major difference!
So should I just clean off the coil?
No, this isn’t a “do-it-yourself” job. If you try to clean the coils yourself, you could easily damage them. However, you can take steps to prevent the coil becoming dirty in the first place, such as making sure that shrubs and other plants are clear from the condenser cabinet, as well as loose soil and garden mulch.
But when the coil is already dirty, you’ll need to have professionals take care of cleaning it. HVAC technicians will monitor the coil during maintenance and provide cleaning of the equipment (yet another reason to always have spring maintenance). Professional coil cleanings are generally necessary every 3-5 years with proper maintenance. It’s similar to cleaning your oven. You may wipe your oven after cooking, but you probably don’t do a heavy duty cleaning each time you bake. Eventually you need to thoroughly clean off all the caked on residue with your oven’s self-cleaning high-heat feature, or use one of those deep cleaning cleansers. Coil cleanings are more involved and less frequent.Sort of like the major maintenance your car requires after 35,000 miles.
How professionals clean condenser coils
To properly clean the condenser coil in an AC, the technicians must take apart the condenser unit to be able to access the coil. Once the technicians can reach the coil, they will use a number of different methods depending on how much grime and dirt is on the coil. For example, a special foaming chemical can be sprayed onto the coil, then allowed to saturate into the fins. Afterwards, the foam is vacuumed up and coil rinsed down. Pressure washers are another common method. The pressure washers must have careful handling in order to avoid causing damage to the fins. When the coils are completely cleaned, the technicians put the cabinet back together and test to see that everything is working as it should.
If you need coil cleaning for your air conditioning system, call Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical. We serve Beverly Hills, CA and throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.