How to clean your air conditioner coils inside your house

Keeping your air conditioner coils clean will allow you to save money on your energy bill and will keep your home cool and refreshing all summer. But when it comes time to clean your AC again, you may be dreading the process. 

There’s no need to fret over cleaning your air conditioner coils, however. This step-by-step guide will walk you through exactly what you need to do to accomplish a quick and effective AC cleaning.

Why you should clean your AC coils

There are several reasons why cleaning your AC coils regularly will benefit you and your home.

Save energy

The first reason is that routine cleaning of your HVAC coils will save you money on electricity. That’s because clean AC units use less energy to cool down a space. 

Run cooler air

Another reason is that a clean AC unit will cool your home faster. This goes right along with saving energy, as well. Since your AC is clean, it will consume less energy to cool down your home. Additionally, the air will be much cooler since there is no internal dust or dirt buildup.

Less dirt and dust

Continuing with the above idea, a clean AC unit won’t have to work as hard from all the dirt and dust buildup. While this may be obvious, it’s important to note how beneficial a clean AC is for your home. Dirt and dust may transfer into the air you and your family are breathing if your unit is not properly maintained. This could lead to illnesses and allergy problems.

person cleaning an air conditioning unit
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When to clean the AC 

It’s best to clean your AC unit twice a year. Experts recommend cleaning it in the spring before you begin using it again and then in the fall once summer has ended. This will not only lessen your energy consumption in the summer but will also provide clean, cool air from your AC.

Step-by-step on how to clean HVAC coils

There are many different types of home AC units. Here, we’ll discuss the best methods for cleaning larger, outdoor units.

Step 1

The first thing you should do is turn off the power to the AC unit. Most outdoor units will have a shutoff box nearby so you can easily access the power switch. If you don’t have a shutoff box, you can flip the power switch in your circuit breaker.

Step 2

Many outdoor units will have a drain line that you need to ensure is clear of debris. The drain line will be located at the base of your air conditioning unit and will look like a hole or a small tube with a nozzle. Pour water into the drain line to flush any debris. If the line is clogged, mix a solution of one part bleach with one part water and pour it into the line. After a few minutes, the clog should vanish.

Step 3

Next, you should look for debris on your unit both inside and out and begin removing anything that could be blocking the coils. On outdoor units, it’s especially important to be aware of bugs, sticks, leaves, and dirt that are sucked up and stuck in your unit. If you want, you can also purchase a special brush to clean out the debris.

person scrubs air conditioner filter with brush
Volkova Vera/Shutterstock

Step 4

Once all of the larger debris is removed, do a quick inspection of your unit for any tears, damage, oil leaks, dents, or anything that seems off. Contact a professional if you find any damages so they can guide you on the best methods for repair or replacement.

Step 5

For your outdoor unit, you can use a garden hose to spray down the coils. Avoid using a pressure washer as it could be too powerful on the sensitive pieces in your AC unit. Also, avoid spraying any wiring or fan components directly. The goal is simply to rinse off the coils to remove dirt and dust.

Step 6

Next, if you have a coil cleaner, you should apply the spray generously to the coils. Coil cleaner is specialized to remove dirt and debris from the air conditioner coils. Follow the instructions on your coil cleaner and let the solution sit on the coils for five to 10 minutes before rinsing it off with the hose.

Step 7

Before you reassemble your AC unit, you’ll want to straighten out the bristles and fins in your unit. A common problem for many units is that the fins get tangled and twisted. You can purchase a fin comb to help correct the fins to their original state.

Once your unit is cleaned, you only have to wait a few minutes before turning it back on again. Then, you will be set for plenty of cool, clean air during the summer.

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