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How To Use Evaporator Coil Cleaner And Why It Can Save Your HVAC System

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The evaporator coils within your central air conditioner's indoor air handler are the part that provides the actual source of cooling for your ambient air. The coils take in liquid refrigerant from the outside condensing unit, change that liquid into a gas, and become cold and a bit damp in the process. That dampness makes the coils a magnet for dirt buildups, which can eventually interfere with the carefully calibrated phase change process and cost your unit efficiency.

Cleaning the coils is relatively easy using a product found at any hardware store. If your system requires a deeper clean, call an air conditioning services company for a maintenance appointment.

Things You Need:

  • Owner's manual
  • Screwdriver
  • Protective gloves
  • Goggles
  • No-rinse foaming coil cleaner
  • Steel brush

Step 1: Access the Coils

Turn off the total power supply to the furnace or air handler using either the shutoff switch or the breaker switch.

Locate your evaporator coils using your owner's manual for help, if needed; you will likely need to remove at least one access panel door to reach the coils. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the fasteners on each access panel door, put the fasteners in your pocket for safe keeping, and then pull down and out on the door. Set the door aside.

Step 2: Clean the Coils

Don a pair of protective gloves and a set of safety goggles to keep yourself safe from cleaner fumes.  Point the long nozzle of the cleaner at the coils and squeeze the trigger for a quick burst to show yourself how much cleaner comes out at once so you can calibrate. Depress the trigger again and move the nozzle around so that you fully coat the coils in a light layer of the cleaner.

Allow the cleaner to set for the amount of time recommended on the label. When the time has expired, turn on the air handler or furnace. The normal operation of the unit will create condensation on the coils, which will rinse off the cleaner and drop it into the drip disposal tray at the bottom of the air handler.

Check for any signs of stuck on dirt a couple of days after your initial cleaning. Turn the unit back off and use a steel brush and an extremely gentle hand to scrape off that dirt. If you're nervous about causing damage to the coils, call in an air conditioning service, such as Apollo Heating & Air Conditioning, to perform the deep clean.