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Why You Need to Clean and Maintain Your Condenser Coil


You can improve the efficiency and functioning of your home’s central air conditioning system by cleaning and maintaining the condenser coil. Below is more information about this important component and how you can maximize its operation.

Why Should You Maintain the Condenser Coil?

The purpose of the condenser coil is to transfer heat collected from the interior of your home into the outside air. However, the condenser coil can’t exchange heat with the atmosphere if it is covered in dirt and/or if its cooling fins are bent. Too little heat exchange will cause the air conditioner to run longer to achieve the same results, thus leading to increased energy costs.

Fortunately, cleaning the condenser coil isn’t difficult. Below is a straightforward process for maintaining the condenser coils on your air conditioner.

How Do You Maintain the Condenser Coil?

You will need to gather a few tools and materials before starting the cleaning process. For example, you will want to have on-hand a shop vacuum, pump-up garden sprayer, coil cleaning solution concentrate, garden hose, pruning shears, and condenser fin comb.

1. Turn Off the Power to the Air Conditioning System

Begin by disconnecting the electrical power to the air conditioner at the main breaker panel or the outdoor unit disconnect switch. Don’t simply turn off the thermostat; otherwise, someone may inadvertently turn the unit back on and blow condenser coil cleaner in your face.

2. Clear Plants and Weeds

First, use a pair of pruning shears to clip any plants that might be growing too closely to the condenser coil. Foliage can interfere with the heat exchange process.

If grass or weeds are growing next to the unit, then you will want to pull them up or spray the plants with an herbicide. Avoid using a weed trimmer since the trimmer line can cause damage to the fins that line the sides of the unit.

3. Vacuum Loose Debris

The next step is to clear away loose debris covering the condenser coil. This debris consists of dead grass, leaves, seeds, and all kinds of other small bits and pieces of trash.

To clear away the loose debris, use a shop vacuum crevice tool to reach into the narrow spaces between the protective grille and the condenser coil. Also, lightly rub a brush attachment up and down across the coil to loosen and suction bits of dirt and sand. Don’t press too hard, or you will crush the delicate fins.

4. Spray the Condenser Coil With Cleaner

Mix a coil cleaning solution by following directions on the concentrate container; be sure not to splash the cleaning solution in your face or eyes, as it consists of caustic chemicals that can cause burns.

Fill a pump-up garden sprayer with the cleaning solution and begin spraying the exterior of the condenser coil with the chemical. Continue spraying until you have saturated all sides of the coil with the solution. Allow the solution to remain in place for about five minutes-or longer if otherwise indicated by the manufacturer of the cleaner.

5. Rinse the Coil With Water

Once the condenser coil has soaked in the cleaning solution for the recommended period of time, use a garden hose to rinse the chemical residue from the coil. But never direct a forceful stream of water against the coils, as you could damage the fins.

6. Comb the Condenser Coil Fins

The last step in cleaning and maintaining the condenser coil is to straighten the fins. Use a fin comb obtained from an air conditioning supply house or online vendor.

To straighten the fins, slowly brush the fin comb downward from the top of the unit. Not all the fins will straighten, but you can still achieve a marked improvement in their ability to exchange heat by fixing several of them.

If you have questions about your air conditioning system condenser coil or any other components, don’t hesitate to contact HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains. They can provide advice as well as perform maintenance and repair of your system.

Posted in: Air Conditioning

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