A technician cleaning the inside of an AC condenser unit with water.

How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils

As a homeowner, you’re probably aware of how hard your air conditioner works during the summer. The high temperatures can be overwhelming, but our cooling systems go above and beyond to keep us cool. As a result, it’s important to keep up with your unit’s maintenance needs.

One maintenance task you can complete yourself is cleaning your air conditioner’s condenser coils. Performing this task on a routine basis can help you save money and extend the life of your HVAC system. If you’re ready to start, let’s discuss how to clean air conditioner coils.

What Are Condenser Coils?

All central air conditioning systems have two units: one indoors and one outdoors. As their name suggests, you’ll find the condenser coils in the outdoor condenser unit. These coils come into play at the very end of a cooling cycle. Once the indoor unit has removed the heat from your home’s air, this heat is then sent to the condenser unit. Here, the coils are responsible for pushing this heat outside — and far, far away from your home. 

Unfortunately, these coils can be affected by dirt and debris. When the coils become dirty, they often have a hard time performing their job. As a result, you could be staring down a costly repair or sudden breakdown.

So, how often should you clean condenser coils? It’s best to clean them once every year. However, you might want to perform this maintenance task more often if the condenser unit is located near shrubs or is more susceptible to collecting dirt and debris.

How to Clean AC Condenser Coils 

Almost all HVAC companies in DC will stress the importance of regular air conditioner maintenance. Some of these maintenance tasks require the help of a professional, but there are some you can complete yourself. All you need are a few supplies and a step-by-step guide to follow. Below, we’ll discuss the best way to clean condenser coils so that you can get back to enjoying your air conditioner to the fullest.

Shut Off Your Air Conditioner

Before we can go over how to clean air conditioner coils, it’s important to take some precautions. Safety should always come first. You’ll need to turn the air conditioner off at the thermostat and the breaker panel.

If you’re considering using a coil cleaner, it’s also important to have safety equipment on hand. Equip yourself with gloves, apparel, and glasses that will protect your skin and eyes against the chemicals in these cleaners.

Find the Condenser Coils

If you’ve never cleaned the coils in your AC unit before, you might be unsure where to locate them. Fortunately, they aren’t difficult to find. When you go outside and look at the condenser unit, keep an eye out for an access panel. You’ll need to unscrew and remove this panel in order to access the coils. Inside the condenser unit, the coils will look something like this: 

Remove Debris With a Coil Brush

Now that you have full access to the coils, it’s time to get down to business. Check the coils for any visible dirt and debris, then proceed to clean them with a coil brush. These tools make it easy to remove all kinds of debris. However, there may be some leaves, small rocks, or clumps of dirt that are easier to remove with your hands. If that’s the case, put on a pair of gloves and carefully remove the items.

Although using a coil brush is the best way to clean condenser coils, you may find that different methods work better for your specific circumstances. If you don’t have one of these cleaning tools on hand, you can opt to clean AC coils with compressed air.

Consider Using a Shop Vacuum

When learning how to clean air conditioner coils, it’s important to note that it may take a few tries to fully remove all the debris. If you’re struggling to remove the last remainders of dirt, consider using a shop vacuum. You might also decide that you want to use a coil cleaner; however, ensure you take the proper safety precautions before proceeding with either of these methods.

Reposition Bent Fins

Now that we’ve gone through how to clean air conditioner coils, you might have noticed that the aluminum fins surrounding the coils were bent. If this is the case, you can straighten these fins out with a fin comb. You can typically purchase these tools at your local hardware store, and realigning the fins is a pretty simple process for homeowners to tackle.

Rinse the Coils if Necessary

Have you finished cleaning the condenser coils but still feel like the coils are dirty? Believe it or not, these air conditioning coils can be rinsed off with the water from a spray bottle. Of course, you won’t want to use highly-pressurized water, as doing so can cause unwanted damage.

This might be the best way to clean condenser coils, as rinsing them for a few minutes can help remove any excess debris that may be lingering behind.

Call Magnolia for All of Your AC Needs

As you can see, the best way to clean condenser coils can depend on the circumstances and the equipment you have on hand. While it’s important to take care of your AC condenser and perform routine maintenance, you can’t always avoid the need for repair. Magnolia Plumbing, Heating & Cooling can help with all of your cooling system needs, from dirty condenser and evaporator coils to insufficient cooling. Contact us to schedule a service for your air conditioner in DC today!