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Why Your Air Conditioner Coil Matters and How You Can Keep It Clean

Dirty Aircon coil
Your home's central air conditioning system is made up of thousands of components. Everything from wires to tubes to electronic devices is integral to keeping your air conditioning system running.

However, one of the most essential components in any air conditioning system is the condenser coil. Without this particular component, air conditioning would literally be impossible, and that is why it is so critical to keep this particular device well maintained.

Below is more information about condenser coils, including how they function, and what you need to do to keep your system's condenser coil in sound operating condition.

What an Air Conditioner Coil Does

While air conditioning process may seem like a complicated process, the reality is that it is based on a theoretically simple idea. Air conditioners work by removing heat from a location where it is not desired and transfer it to another space. After all, cold is simply the absence of heat from a scientific perspective. 

The air conditioner in your home accomplishes this task through the use of devices known as coils. These coils contain dozens of feet of copper tubing arranged in a compact pattern; attached to the coils are extremely thin metal fins that facilitate the heat exchange process.

An air conditioner pumps refrigerant called Freon through these coils, and depending on the location within the air conditioning system, heat is either absorbed into or released from the refrigerant.

One of the coils, the evaporator coil lies inside your home. The evaporator coil absorbs heat inside the house and transfers it to the passing refrigerant. The refrigerant then is pumped into the outside condenser coil. It is here that heat is then transferred out of the refrigerant into the free atmosphere.

Why Coils Need to Be Kept Clean

The heat exchange process is best facilitated whenever coils are kept clean. If anything interferes with the process of transferring heat in or out of the coils, the air conditioner simply will not perform at its maximum level.

The end result is that air will be kept warmer than necessary, and the air conditioning system will need to work much harder to keep up. Ultimately, the extra stress placed on the air conditioner will cause components to fail prematurely.

How You Can Clean the Condenser Coil

While the evaporator coil will also need to be kept clean, the condenser coil is in a more vulnerable location outside in the outdoor unit. That means it will be exposed to dust, dirt, leaves, insects, animal droppings, tree sap, and a number of other contaminants that will coat and block the coil.

The good news is that the accessibility of the condenser coil makes it easier for homeowners to keep clean. Cleaning is fairly simple, and if you perform the task once or twice per year, your air conditioner will work much more efficiently.

To clean the condenser coil, begin by using a shop vacuum to clean loose debris from the exterior of the outdoor unit. Be careful when using the shop vacuum attachment, as too much pressure can dent or break the delicate fins that line the coil.

Once you have removed as much loose matter as possible, spray the condenser coil thoroughly with an approved commercial coil cleaner. You can either spray the coil cleaner from a conventional spray bottle or add it to a pump up garden sprayer, depending upon which you find more convenient. Allow the coil cleaner to soak into the fins and work to clean away more stubborn debris.

Finally, once the coil cleaner has soaked into the fins, use a garden hose to rinse off the residue from the cleaner and gunk stripped away from the coil. Once again, be careful not to damage the fins with the hose stream, as you definitely do not want to spray using too much force. Allow everything to air-dry before turning on the air conditioner again.

If you have questions, including how to clean your coil, be sure to contact Haskins Heating and Cooling for help. Their professionals are ready to assist you and know how to keep your air conditioner running well and strong.

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