Since your air conditioner has been sitting dormant this winter, it probably has accumulated some dust, dirt, and other filth these past few months. That is why your air conditioner will need a good cleaning before you turn it on again.
One area that becomes particularly dirty on most central air conditioning units is the condenser coil. The condenser coil is the visible component located on the outer sides of the exterior unit that is lined with thin, metal fins.
The good news is that most homeowners can easily clean the condenser coils on their own air conditioning systems. Cleaning requires minimal materials and just about an hour of your time. Below is more information about the condenser coil and what you need to know about cleaning it.
The Purpose of Air Conditioning Coils
While your focus will be on cleaning the condenser coil, there are actually two types of coils inside your air conditioning system. The other kind of coil found in your system is the evaporator coil. Together, the evaporator coil and condenser coil are key components in making cooling possible.
The evaporator coil lies inside your home in the air handler, which is where the system blower forces air through the vents. The sole function of the evaporator coil is to cool passing air by absorbing its heat content. This captured heat is transferred via the refrigerant to the outside unit.
At this point, the condenser coil comes into play as refrigerant inside the condenser coil releases its heat content into the atmosphere. The refrigerant is then pumped back into the house by the compressor, where it circulates through the evaporator coil and the cycle repeats itself again and again.
As you might imagine, the heat transfer process can be inhibited if either the evaporator or condenser coils become dirty. Both coils rely upon efficient, fast heat transfer through thin metal tubing, and it doesn't take much in the way of debris to coat and insulate the tubing. Too much debris can cause the air conditioner to work much harder than necessary and cause your electric bills to rise accordingly.
How to Clean a Condenser Coil
You can prevent your air conditioning system from unnecessarily costing you by cleaning the condenser coil. Here is what you need to know about the process.
1. Disconnect electrical power
Before you begin cleaning the condenser coil, disconnect all electrical power to the outdoor unit. This will prevent possible damage and, more importantly, keep you safe from a potential electrical shock. Most central air conditioning systems utilize 240 volts of electricity, which can prove deadly if contact is accidentally made.
2. Remove loose debris
After you have disconnected the electrical power to the outdoor unit, begin the actual cleaning process by sweeping or vacuuming loose debris away from the condenser coil. Work cautiously, as you don't want to risk damaging the delicate fins, and you will still have a chance to remove any remaining debris once you finish this first step.
3. Wash the condenser coil
Once the bulk of loose material has been removed from the condenser coil, you're ready to wash the remainder of the debris away with cleaning solution and water. Spray the exposed condenser coil fins with a coil cleaning solution until the coil is dripping wet. You can buy the cleaning solution premixed, and it is also available in concentrate form for mixing on your own.
4. Rinse the condenser coil
After allowing the coil to soak in the cleaning solution for the recommended amount of time specified by the manufacturer of the solution, rinse off the coil with a garden hose. Do not use a jet spray setting, as you will bend the cooling fins. Instead allow the water to flow gently over the coil until all of the solution has been washed away.
If you have questions about your heating and cooling system, be sure to contact Eagle Refrigeration & Mechanical for help. Their team is ready to assist you with all of your needs.