how to clean AC coils inside house

How To Clean AC Coils Inside House Without Damaging It

Regular coil cleaning is necessary to keep your air conditioner in tip-top shape. This ensures that your AC will produce cold air and will remain energy-efficient. With this, you should know how to clean AC coils inside house, so you’ll enjoy cool air every time.

If done properly, DIY cleaning of your indoor or evaporator coils can help you save money from professional servicing. However, if your coils are slathered with dirt and haven’t been cleaned for years, cleaning them on your own may not be advisable.

Signs that your indoor AC coils need cleaning

In general, AC coils need to be cleaned regularly. But if you’re wondering, the following are the signs that your evaporator coils need to be cleaned soon.

Your AC doesn’t produce enough cold air.

Does it feel warmer than usual in your home even with the AC on? If so, it might be due to dirty evaporator coils.

The dirt on the coils creates a layer that prevents heat from being absorbed by the refrigerant. In turn, your AC will produce less cool air as the heat simply recirculates into your home.

Your electricity goes up.

When evaporator coils are dirty, your air conditioner would have to compensate to absorb heat. This process uses more energy. But despite the increased power usage, your AC’s function will remain subpar.

Nevertheless, a sudden spike in your electricity bill can also point to other problems like low refrigerant, dirty filters, bad installation, duct leaks, and more. If cleaning the evaporator coils didn’t fix your unusually high power bill, you should consider availing of an HVAC inspection.

Your AC is short cycling.

Short cycling occurs when the AC compressor turns on and off in short intervals. Dirty evaporator coils are one of the possible culprits here.

Take note that short cycling uses a lot of electricity and it also robs your home of cool air.

How to clean AC coils inside the house

There are several steps you can try when cleaning the evaporator coils of your air conditioner. Here’s a quick guide to help you out:

Step 1. Prepare your needed tools

First, you should prepare the necessary tools to clean your evaporator coils. Also, you need a ratchet or screwdriver to open the air conditioner cover.

Aside from that, you should prepare compressed air (optional), a vacuum cleaner, a brush, a mild detergent, and a microfiber towel.

Take note that cleaning your unit’s evaporator coils may void its warranty should you cause damage to it.

Step 2. Turn off the AC

After that, turn off the air conditioner and make sure that it’s unplugged. Never clean the evaporator coils of a running AC as this will lead to electrocution.

Make sure that you flip the AC breaker right inside the panel if your AC is directly wired. Once done, you can now open the AC cover to access the coils.

Step 3. Inspect the evaporator coils

Before you start cleaning, you should inspect the coils first. The evaporator coil is usually installed inside the air handler or right on top of your furnace. Overall, it has an inverted letter ‘V’ or an A-frame design.

Look for any signs of damage or leak. If there are any of them, don’t proceed with cleaning and call a professional AC technician instead.

Step 4. Clean the coils

Once you located the coils, here’s how you should clean them:

Use a vacuum cleaner. Using a vacuum on the lowest setting, suck debris and dust all over the coil. Remove as much surface dirt as you can, but be gentle to avoid damage.

Use compressed air. You can also use compressed air to lift deep-seated dirt on the crevices of the coil. Overall, this is optional since most vacuum cleaners can remove a lot of dirt.

Use a brush. Next, use a brush to work away any remaining debris on the coils. Always use a soft-bristled brush since it’s gentler and won’t scratch the coil material.

Use a mild detergent. After that, mix mild detergent into the water and spray it all over the coils. You can use a pipe cleaner to give the line a mild scrubbing. You can dab any drips using a microfiber cloth.

Step 5. Let it dry

Lastly, let the evaporator coils dry before putting the cover back on. Still, make sure that kids and pets aren’t around to mess with the coils.

Once dry, you can put the cover back, ensuring that you tighten every screw properly. It’s also advisable to tape the edges of the box to block dust and dirt from entering.

Warning: never use harsh chemicals on evaporator coils!

When cleaning your air conditioner’s coils, you should never use harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, or toilet bowl cleaners. These are corrosive and will damage the copper or the coating of the coils.

Also, the smell of these chemicals will be diffused into the air and spread into your home. This can cause irritations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I clean my air conditioner coils myself?

A: Yes, you can clean your AC coils on your own using the right method. You can use mild detergent and water. This can be applied through a low-pressure sprayer to prevent damaging the coils. Also, make sure that your AC is unplugged before you start cleaning its coils. Overall, you should only use gentle methods to avoid damaging the coils and causing a refrigerant leak.

Q: How much does it cost to have my AC coils cleaned?

A: Depending on the condition of your AC coils, professional cleaning would cost around $100 to $400. This depends on the size of your AC, your location, and the pricing of the company. Generally, it’s more expensive to have indoor coils cleaned than outdoor ones.

Q: What happens when an evaporator coil gets dirty?

A: If your evaporator coil becomes dirty, the air conditioner will start to cool less efficiently. It’s because the coils can’t catch the heat from the air because it’s covered in dust and dirt. This will lead to frost buildup, which will stop proper heat transfer and therefore compromises the cooling of your home. If not cleaned, an extremely filthy coil will cause your air conditioner to bog down completely.

Q: How long before I use my air conditioner after cleaning?

A: You should wait for at least an hour before using your air conditioner after its coils have been cleaned. This is to allow the coils to completely dry, so heat transfer would be efficient. If it’s professionally cleaned, you should ask the technician how long before you can turn it on again.

Q: How often should my indoor coils be cleaned?

A: Your air conditioner’s evaporator coils should be cleaned at least twice a year. For AC units that aren’t used regularly, once a year would be fine.  It’s important to have the coils cleaned periodically to ensure their normal function and to enhance their lifespan.

Final words 

Knowing how to clean AC coils inside house will keep your unit in good condition. Just make sure that you do it right to avoid damages. You should never use harsh chemicals as this will damage the coils and spread an intense smell throughout your house.