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3 Ways to Clean Your Central HVAC System’s Evaporator Coil


If you’re wondering why your HVAC system isn’t working as well as it should, the problem may lie with a clogged evaporator coil. Located deep within the indoor cabinet of your central air conditioner or heat pump, the evaporator coil may become clogged with dust, dirt, and debris over time. Mold, mildew, and algae can also grow over the coil, preventing your HVAC system from working properly.

A thorough cleaning of your evaporator coil can help improve your HVAC system’s performance and prevent other more serious maintenance issues. The following offers three effective ways you can clean the evaporator coil.

Start Out With a Little Compressed Air

A little compressed air can go a long way, especially if you only have a light coating of dust or debris on your evaporator coil. You can use a can of compressed air or a portable air compressor to blow away dust and various bits of dirt and debris on the coil. Remember that compressed air is powerful enough to accidentally bend the fragile coil fins, so keep the nozzle at least two to three inches away from the evaporator coil’s surface.

When using compressed air to clean your evaporator coil, you’ll inevitably have dust and debris flying all over the place. To keep dust from spreading to other parts of your HVAC system, grab the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner, position it near the evaporator coil, and use the suction from your vacuum to contain the loose dust and debris.

Use a Little Soap, a Little Water, and a Lot of Elbow Grease

If you’re dealing with more than just dust on your evaporator coil, you may need to invest in more work when it comes to cleaning. Fortunately, all you need is some mild dishwashing detergent, white vinegar, plenty of warm distilled water, and a couple of spray bottles, as well as a soft bristle brush.

Add a few drops of dishwashing detergent to a spray bottle filled with distilled water and spray the solution onto the evaporator coil. Allow it to sit for a minute or two and then use your soft bristle brush to gently scrub away any dirt or debris found on the evaporator coil. If you encounter stubborn debris buildup, you may need to make a couple of passes with the spray bottle and soft bristle brush before it finally comes loose.

Afterwards, fill the second spray bottle with a half-and-half mixture of white vinegar and distilled water. Use this bottle to spray the solution onto the evaporator coil. White vinegar offers natural disinfecting properties that help disrupt current mold and bacteria growth while preventing future growth from occurring. Allow the solution to sit on the evaporator coil for a few minutes and then rinse it off with distilled water.

Don’t Be Afraid of Foam and Bubbles

If you run into a heavy buildup of mold, mildew, or algae, then chances are you’ll need to tackle it with something a bit tougher than the aforementioned mild detergent solution. In this case, you’ll need to use a foaming cleaner, preferably one that’s specifically designed to be used on HVAC systems. It’s a good idea to look for a foaming cleaner that’s also rinse-free so you won’t have to deal with rinsing away any leftover foam cleaner from the evaporator coil.

Once you have your foaming no-rinse cleaner on hand, spray the cleaner all over the evaporator coil and simply let it sit. The foaming action of the cleaner will dislodge any dirt, debris, or organic growth from the evaporator coil. Afterwards, the foam will break down and drain away from the coil, taking with it all of the debris it collected. For especially heavy buildup, you may need to apply the foaming cleaner onto the evaporator coil a second time before giving your coil a clean bill of health.


If you ever need a professional’s touch when it comes to cleaning your evaporator coil, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains. We can tackle a wide variety of HVAC maintenance issues with the care and promptness you’ve come to expect.

Posted in: Air Conditioning, Heating

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