How can I properly maintain my evaporator coil?
The central air conditioning unit in your house is a very important part of maintaining a comfortable house. Most homes in central Florida are equipped with heat pump systems now that provide both heating and cooling so they are in use almost year-round. Keeping the air conditioning unit in good working order is not only a wise financial decision it may save you from suffering through a sweltering hot summer or cold winter night without proper A/C system operation.
There are two major components to your central air conditioning unit. One is the outdoor or condenser unit that is usually situated outside the house on a square of concrete. The other is the indoor or air handling unit containing the evaporator coil. If you have a furnace then the evaporator coil will be attached to or near the furnace. The evaporator coil removes or adds heat from/to the air drawn from inside before it enters the ductwork to be distributed throughout the house. The evaporator coils also collect moisture from the air as it is being cooled dehumidifying the air at the same time.
The movement of the air across the coils can contain much more than moisture. Pet hair, dust, and other airborne particles of various kinds find their way to the coils and may become deposited on them. Keeping your AC filter clean and replaced regularly can help but also having your ducts inspected for damage and leaks where contaminants can enter should be performed as part of a routine maintenance plan. The build-up of dirt, skin cells, pet dander, hair, spores, etc can lead to a malfunctioning unit and not properly cool or dehumidify the house as it should and start a gross science experiment inside your air conditioner.
The coils will need to be cleaned and the number one tip you should remember about cleaning evaporator coils if you intend to try and tackle this job yourself is: BE CAREFUL. You may be able to access the evaporator coil of your air conditioner by removing the filter and looking up from the “bottom” of the unit if the unit is mounted on a stand. If not you may need to remove the panels on the front of the AC, just make sure to shut off the electricity first and don’t get any electrical components wet. Evaporator coils tend to be fragile and without proper tools and some experience your do-it-yourself job could turn into a more expensive replacement job. There are very thin, and sharp, aluminum fins attached to tubes for absorbing or radiating heat on the evaporator coil. These fins need to be clean to better transfer heat and reduce corrosion leading to premature evaporator coil failure. A mild soap and water solution, or cleaners like simple green and a soft nylon bristle brush should work in most cases being very careful to brush lightly “with the grain” of the coil so as not to bend or damage the coil. As long as the coil has not become “impacted”, this method will take care of normal dust and debris. An impacted coil has debris or bacterial growth that is not just on the surface and may require that the coil be removed from the air conditioner and cleaned externally or replaced. If you have removed the panels on the air handler, be carefully re-installing them as they are often easy to over tighten and strip out.
Ultimately, the best “offense is a good defense” when it comes to keeping your evaporator coil clean. Make sure you change your filter on a regular basis and have the entire A/C system maintained annually. At The Comfort Authority as part of our routine maintenance, technicians will inspect the coils and all other parts of the central air conditioning unit for any signs of damage to help prevent future problems and can clean them for you if you should desire. We can help you remember routine maintenance calling annually to keep your system in top shape so it can continue to keep you comfortable all year round. If you think you are having issues and you want to schedule service we can help with that as well.
Are you keeping up with your AC unit’s maintenance? Call The Comfort Authority at (813) 518-8030 and schedule a service call today!