Understanding HVAC Guidelines
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Understanding HVAC Guidelines

Once I purchased my first home, I realized that I needed to do my part in caring for my home appliances. In addition to reading the user manuals for my kitchen appliances and state-of-the-art plumbing system, I realized that I also needed to do a little research about HVAC. Because I had no experience with HVAC systems, I called out a professional to teach me a thing or two. It was fascinating to talk with him, and I was able to take notes about all kinds of important topics, such as maintenance, troubleshooting, and even shopping for a new system. This blog is all about understanding HVAC guidelines.

Understanding HVAC Guidelines

Cleaning Evaporator and Condenser Coils on Your Air Conditioner Improve Its Effeciency

Marilou Girard

If you have an air conditioner in your home, you probably already know how important it is to clean or replace the filter regularly. What you may not realize is that cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils is just as important. Follow these tips for locating and cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils in your air conditioner.

What's the difference between evaporator and condenser coils?

Both evaporator and condenser coils transfer heat, but they work in opposite ways. Both work as conduits for the refrigerant, a chemical that is capable of absorbing heat. The evaporator coils are located inside the home in the interior air handler. Warm air from the home is drawn into the air conditioner via return ducts and blown over the evaporator coils. The heat from the air is absorbed by the refrigerant in the evaporator coils. The cooled air is then blown into the ducts to cool your home. Because the water vapor in the air condenses, the air is "conditioned" and has less humidity.

The heated refrigerant than travels outside the home to the cabinet that contains both the condenser coils and the compressor. As the refrigerant enters the compressor, it is pressurized, which causes it to get hotter. The heat is then released to the outside of the home via a fan.

Why must condenser and evaporator coils be clean?

When dirt and debris build up on either the condenser or evaporator coils, your air conditioner becomes less efficient. It is not able to absorb the heat from the air inside your home easily and is not able to disperse the heat to the outside either. Cleaning the coils regularly improves the efficiency of your air conditioner, saves you money in energy costs, and makes your home feel more comfortable too.

How do you clean the coils?

The evaporator coils may develop a buildup of dust and dirt from the air inside your home, while the condenser coils may become covered with dust, pollen, dirt, fallen leaves, pine needles, and other common yard debris. Here's how to clean these coils.

  • Condenser coils
    1. Turn off the electrical supply to the air conditioner.
    2. Remove leaves or other debris from the condenser coils by hand.
    3. Hose down the condenser coils with a garden hose.
    4. Mix condenser cleaner (you can buy this at your local home-improvement store) according to the instructions on the container. Add it to a spray bottle and saturate the condenser coils with the cleaning mixture.
    5. Allow the cleaner to set for about five minutes. This should cover the condenser with foam.
    6. Rinse the cleaner and soil away with a hose.
  • Evaporator Coils
    1. Turn off the electrical supply to your air conditioner.
    2. Wipe down the evaporator coils with a soft, damp cloth.
    3. For excessive dust, hair, or other debris, use a vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment or use an air compressor to blow the debris off the coils.
    4. Use a soft-bristled scrub brush to remove stubborn buildup. Do not use a wire brush, as it may scratch or damage the coils.
    5. Wipe the coils dry with a soft, dry cloth.

Other Tips

  • To prevent debris from clogging the outside unit, keep weeds, bushes, and ornamental plants at least two feet from the air-conditioning unit.
  • If fallen leaves become an issue, consider replacing nearby trees with evergreen trees or ornamental bushes that do not shed copious amounts of leaves in the fall.
  • Make your own condenser cleaner by mixing one part distilled white vinegar with three parts water.

Regular cleaning will keep your air conditioner running at its optimal performance between scheduled maintenance calls. If you are uncomfortable cleaning the coils on your own, talk to an HVAC dealer such as #1 Air Source about scheduling regular visits to clean your air conditioner.