Your air conditioner and your heat pump (if you have one) depend on two coils for their refrigeration or heating cycle. Your indoor coil (known as your evaporator coil) and your outdoor coil (known as your condenser coil), work in tandem to gather heat from where you don’t want it, and then let it go where it’s needed. These coils work through a process of heat transfer. When your air conditioner is turned on, the indoor coil collects heat from the air that passes over it while your outdoor coil expels heat into the atmosphere outside.
Because these coils are such an integral part of your cooling (and possibly also heating) cycles, it’s important to make sure that they’re in good condition. This is why maintenance is such an important part of your ownership and operation, and why cleaning your coils is perhaps the single most important part of your HVAC maintenance service.
Why Clean Your Coils?
Because air is forced to pass over your coils, they will eventually become dirty. In order for heat transfer to occur, air has to be pulled over the coils in order for the transfer to happen, and this occurs in both your indoor and outdoor coils. In your outdoor coil, the air is pulled through your outdoor unit, where it first loses as much heat as possible through the cooling fins before then being passed over the outdoor coil itself. This allows your air conditioner to shed heat that was accumulated from inside your home and cool the air indoors.
However, because the air is pulled directly over this coil without any filtration or protection, dust and dirt can become stuck to the coil overtime. This acts as a sort-of blanket, insulating the coil and preventing the much-needed heat transfer from occurring. It’s critically important that you clean your outdoor coil at least once per year in order to make sure that any dirt buildup on the coil itself is cleared away and heat transfer can happen as easily as possible.
Your indoor coil is generally much better-off. Because the coil is located behind your air intake vent, and the air filter which strains it out, dust and debris generally don’t build up on your coil nearly as much. However, it can and still does. Grains of dust may slip through the filter, and dust can naturally accumulate in these spaces as well. Any gaps or holes in your indoor unit may also lead to dust getting into your coil area and sticking to the coil as well. And thanks to condensing water on your coil, nearly any dust that makes contact with your coil while it’s turned on sticks immediately.
The dust and dirt on your indoor coil also acts like an insulative blanket of sorts, preventing your coil from pulling the heat and water vapor out of the air which makes your home stuffy and uncomfortable.
What Do Dirty Coils Do?
When your coils are dirty, the heat transfer that your air conditioner depends on can’t happen as well as it should, and that means a number of different things. First, it means longer cycle times. Your system will continue to run at the same speed, but when it can’t produce the cold air you need as rapidly as possible, it needs to run for a longer period of time. These longer cycles mean two things: more wear and tear on all parts of your air conditioning system, and more energy consumption. Both of these mean more money out of your pocket at the end of the day when you have to pay for more repairs and more electricity to keep your home comfortable.
How Often Should I Clean My Coils?
As a homeowner, we strongly advise cleaning your coils at least once per year, preferably around the start of spring time. When winter temperatures are starting to subside and give way to the heat and humidity of summer, you’ll inevitably have to turn on your air conditioner soon, and you want your system to be ready for the moment you do.
Additionally, you can help keep your coils clean for longer by regularly changing your air filter inside your home, and keeping the area around your outdoor unit clean and as clear as possible. This means sweeping away dust, keeping plants trimmed back at least three feet, and cutting grass or plants that may come within this radius as well.
Schedule a coil cleaning service by calling Airrific Air Conditioning & Heating at (941) 371-3355 today!