How Often Should You Clean Your AC Coils?

Air conditioning is a two-part process. It involves both pumping cool air into your home and drawing warm air out. When the coils of your air conditioner are coated with dust, dirt, or other debris, the warm air is not removed as effectively. In order to keep your energy costs low and reduce undue strain on your air conditioning unit, it is important to clean your coils about once per calendar year. For best results, have your coils cleaned by a professional before the warm season hits.

Why Clean Coils Matter
Clean coils help to ensure that the heat transfer process works efficiently. It has been estimated that dirty coils can cause your energy usage to rise as much as 30%. Grimy evaporator and condenser coils can cause other problems, as well. To prevent frozen evaporator coils, overheating your compressor, and overall poor cooling performance, be sure to keep your coils clean.

How You Can Prevent Dirty Coils
Although the coils themselves only need to be thoroughly cleaned about once a year, there are preventative steps you can take. In order to prevent build up on the coils, you should examine the air filter about once a month. Anytime the filter looks worn out or dirty it should be replaced. An unkempt air filter will fail to block dust and dirt, instead allowing it to build up on the coils.

Another way to help keep your coils clean is to keep plants and other items at least two feet away from your air conditioning unit, on all sides. Trim back shrubs and trees, and store bikes, tools, and other items in another location. This prevents additional debris from making its way onto your coils and zapping the efficiency of your cooling system.

How to Clean the Coils
Your evaporator and condenser coils have delicate fins that are very easily damaged. For this reason, deep cleaning the coils on your own is not recommended. About once a year, ideally before the start of the summer season, call an HVAC professional to your home for an annual maintenance visit. During this visit, your technician will clean the coils and evaluate your cooling system for any other underlying problems. In between annual visits, you can check the coils for large pieces of debris, such as branches, and remove them. You can also spray the coils with a garden hose. Just remember to disconnect your unit from the power source first.