How To Clean Air Handler Coils

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Air handler coils or evaporator coils are one of the essential parts an air conditioner has. So, it is crucial to take care of them. And that is why we have compiled all the information we have gathered from our research about air handler coils, especially how to clean them.

To clean your air handler or evaporator coils, you must:

  1. Turn off the air conditioning unit at the thermostat
  2. Shut the circuit breaker off to avoid any electrical accidents
  3. Have access to the air conditioner and find the air handler coils
  4. Loosen the panel by removing all the screws. Keep them safe by putting them where they won't get lost.
  5. Lastly, clean them thoroughly using any cleaning solution you prefer.

We can say that cleaning an air handler coil is a straightforward task, as long as you follow the required steps. Please read on if you want to know all the details for cleaning your coils. We might also be able to answer some of your additional questions by reading the entire article.

Dissembling an air conditioning unit, How To Clean Air Handler Coils

How To Clean Your Air Handler Coils

A clean air conditioner coil is an essential factor in maintaining your unit. If you want to do a DIY cleaning on your evaporator coils, follow these steps:

1. Turn Off the Air Conditioning Unit at the Thermostat

Spraying and washing the coil of the air conditioning unit

Of course, the very first step to do when cleaning any air conditioner's component is to switch the unit off from your thermostat. You don't want to start working while your air conditioner is on.

2. Shut the Circuit Breaker Off to Avoid Any Electrical Accidents

Shutting off your circuit breaker is a must. We highly recommend doing this to prevent any possible accident. Especially if one of your family members would try to turn on the air conditioner while you are working on it.

3. Have Access to the Air Conditioner and Find the Air Handler Coils

You can find the evaporator coils inside the indoor or air handling unit. And that is behind the detachable access panel.

4. Loosen the Panel by Removing All the Screws

You have to remove all the screws or fasteners from the access panel to loosen it so that you can detach it from the unit. Keep the screws and board where they won't get lost.

5. Clean the Air Handler Unit Using the Preferred Cleaning Solution or Method

There are several cleaning solutions and ways you can choose from to clean your evaporator coils. And they are the following:

Using Compressed Air

If you notice just a little dirt buildup on your evaporator coils, you can clean as simply as using compressed air to blow all the dirt from your coils. To do it, you should place the compressed air in a direction contrary to the normal airflow to the other side of the coil.

Additionally, you have to ensure that you use eye protection, keep a steady airflow across the coil, and utilize a vacuum to clean up all the debris and dirt as it gets removed.

See this compressed air duster on Amazon.

Using a Brush

If you want to go for an effective method of removing only small amounts of dirt buildup from your evaporator coils, you can opt to use a brush. Plus, it can also let you control the pressure and areas you need to reach.

You will just have to use the brush straight on the coils to remove all the dirt to do this method. Scrub the coils thoroughly but gently to ensure you are getting rid of all the existing dirt.

It would be best to avoid brushes with stiff bristles, so you should use a soft brush to prevent your fins from having damaged.

Using Commercial Cleaning Solutions

There are numerous choices you can have for commercial cleaners available for cleaning your air handler coils. Once you select your preferred solution, follow the manufacturer's instructions from the box or back of the product. Reapply the cleaning solution if necessary or as per instructions by the manufacturer.

Check out this evaporator coil cleaner on Amazon.

Using a Mixture of Water and Mild Detergents

If you don't want to use commercial cleaners, you can always opt to use mild detergent and water. Mix them in a spray bottle or garden sprayer.

All you have to do is to spray the solution onto the air handler coils and let it sit for a few minutes so that it can loosen all the dirt and debris buildup. After that, wipe the coils using a soft brush or clean cloth. Reapply the solution as needed.

Heavy-duty Evaporator Coil Cleaning

Washing the coil of an air conditioning unit

If there is too much dirt and debris from your evaporator coils, it would be best to perform a heavy-duty cleaning. You can use heavy-duty cleaning solutions and equipment for this method, such as a pressure washer or steam cleaner.

In addition, a heavy-duty cleaning will also mean that you will need to detach more of your air conditioner components to have more and easier access. You may need to remove the coils or cut the refrigerant lines.

However, if you want to go for this method, we highly recommend calling an HVAC professional rather than a DIY process. An HVAC expert can help you assess the air conditioner better. And they'll have the complete tools and equipment for the heavy-duty cleaning you want for your air conditioner.

Lastly, rest assured that professionals can reassemble the air conditioner components correctly and without damage.

What Is The Importance Of Air Handler Coils?

The main function of air handler coils or evaporator coils is to get all the heat from the indoor air. It is usually made from copper and is wrapped by numerous aluminum fins that aid in enhancing the transfer of heat. You can locate the evaporator coils inside the air handling unit.

Air handler coils are critical to the performance of your air conditioning system's cooling process, as they provide the required cooling to generate the cold air that holds the indoor air comfortable even in the hottest of temperatures.

They also aid in the dehumidification delivered by your HVAC system. As the coils cool, water condenses on them, which is then extracted from the air inside your home. The water is gathered in the drain pan and safely discharged from the system.

The efficacy of these two vital functions of air handler coils will decrease if the coils get dirty. The air handler coils are usually moist because of the dehumidification function, so the pollen, dust, and other air particles will adhere to the coils. 

The number of impurities that come into touch with the air handler coils can also grow if the air conditioner filter is dirty or if no air filter is used at all. And when all of these elements combine, enough dirt and dust can accumulate on the condenser or air handler coils in a short period, causing them to function poorly.

What Are The Problems That Occur When The Air Conditioner Coils Are Dirty?

Ice accumulating on the air conditioning coils

The issues below will occur if your air conditioner coils are dirty, including both condenser and evaporator coils.

  • There will be a possible ice buildup or freezing coils
  • The cooling capacity will decrease
  • It will lead to higher energy consumption
  • Increased operating pressure
  • Dirty coils can increase the HVAC system's wear and tear. And this can lead the unit to continuous malfunction and damage
  • It can cause your refrigerant lines to freeze
  • The heat transfer will decrease
  • Higher temperature

How Often Should You Clean Your Air Conditioner Coils?

Technician repairing the air conditioning unit

With a seasonal tune-up, you can usually get away with cleaning your coils once a year. However, it would be best to think about the location of your air conditioning unit. If you live in a city with a lot of pollution, it would be best to have your air conditioner coils cleaned twice a year. Frequent tune-ups will also maintain your HVAC  system operating better if the equipment is older or used for most of the day.

Checking your air handler coils every few months and thoroughly but gently cleaning off dust and debris accumulation with a brush can help you keep your system running between tune-ups. Because air conditioner repair can be too expensive, keeping your entire HVAC system clean all year can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Wrap It All Up

Dissembling an air conditioning uniT

Now that you know how to clean air handler coils, you can already clean them in a DIY method. However, if there are more components that you need to clean simultaneously, it would be best to call an HVAC professional for help. 

If you have found this post instructive, check out these other helpful topics:

How To Clean A Portable Air Conditioner [Including Coils And Water Tank]

How To Clean Evaporator Coils On Central Air Conditioner

How To Clean An Amana AC Unit [Inc. Coils & Filter]

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