Reliable Heating & Cooling

How Long Does It Take To Clean AC Coils?

Your air conditioner has many components that work in tandem to generate cool air. AC coils in the air handler and condenser unit are integral to the system’s functionality, but debris accumulating over them can seriously impact the cooling system’s performance. So, how long does it take to clean AC coils?

Reliable Heating & Cooling offers AC coil cleaning in Georgetown, MI, and the surrounding communities. Consult our guide below to learn what it takes to remove dirt and debris from air conditioning coils. 

Types of Coils in Air Conditioning Systems

Air conditioners have two types of coils: the condenser coils and the evaporator coils. The condenser coils are inside the outdoor portion of the AC equipment. You’ll find evaporator coils in the air handler indoors. 

The evaporator coils house the refrigerant, a chemical that changes from liquid to gas. As hot indoor air passes over these coils, the liquid refrigerant extracts its warmth. This heat exchange creates condensation on the evaporator coils that drip into the AC’s drain pan. 

The refrigerant flows through a line to the condenser coil, where a compressor pressurizes it and forces it into its gas form. As a gas, the refrigerant disperses the heat it collects from the indoor air into the outdoor environment. 

Air must circulate over both coils to facilitate the heat transfer and generate chilled air. If dirt, dust, leaves, grass, and other debris collect over them, the coils can’t absorb heat from the air, which reduces the air conditioner’s efficiency. 

How Long It Takes To Clean Air Conditioner Coils

How long does it take to clean AC coils? The short answer for most cases is under an hour. Still, it’s better to block off at least 60 minutes for the entire cleaning process to ensure a thorough cleansing and the correct reassembly of parts, if necessary.

You don’t need to clean the air conditioner coils often, either. Most residences only require the service at least once a year. When you schedule an annual AC tune-up, the HVAC technician will complete condenser and evaporator coil cleaning as part of its maintenance checklist. 

Signs Your AC Unit Has Dirty Coils

Despite needing AC coil cleaning at least once a year, you might benefit from the service more often if your coils get dirty quickly. Watch for these signs to know when it may be time to book an AC coil cleaning appointment with a local HVAC company.

Evaporator Coils Are Freezing

Evaporator coils will produce condensation as the refrigerant inside absorbs heat from the indoor air. Unfortunately, the condensation will start to freeze if the evaporator coils have significant debris covering them.

Without the warmth from the air, the refrigerant will generate frost on the coils. The longer the debris remains on the coils, the thicker the layer of frost and ice from frozen condensation will be. Eventually, the system won’t absorb any heat, causing your unit to break down.

Less Cold Air From Your Vents

Your coils don’t have to freeze to affect your air conditioning unit’s efficiency. A layer of dirt and dust is enough to limit the coils’ ability to transfer heat. As a result, your air conditioner’s cooling capacity will decrease, and the system will overwork itself to maintain the temperature on the thermostat. 

AC System Runs Longer

Because the coils can’t perform their job well with a filthy surface, you’ll notice your air conditioner running for longer periods. It’s the system’s way of compensating for its failing components and inability to produce cool air. Your air conditioner might keep your home chilled and comfortable for a while, but it’ll take longer to do so. 

How To Clean Evaporator Coils

You can clean evaporator coils in several ways. The easiest way to do it with minimal risk of damaging your air conditioner is to clean the coils without removing them from their position inside the air handler. Here are the general steps to follow:

  • Turn off the power to the air conditioner. 
  • Find and remove the panel that gives access to the evaporator coils. You may need to review your air conditioner’s operation manual to locate the panel. 
  • Use a can of compressed air to remove dust from the coils’ surface without removing any AC parts. Move the nozzle close to the coils and spray the compressed air at a 90-degree angle to remove stubborn debris. 
  • Create a solution with warm water and mild detergent to remove sticky grime. Carefully apply the solution with a soft-bristled brush to clean the evaporator coils. 
  • Wait about an hour for the coils to dry before reattaching the panel cover and turning your air conditioner back on.

Sometimes, a thick layer of grime and dirt won’t come off with compressed air or a soapy, soft-bristled brush. In that case, you should call an HVAC technician to disassemble the evaporator coils and clean them. 

How To Clean Condenser Coils

Cleaning condenser coils will require you to access the part of your air conditioner that’s outside. These are the general condenser coil cleaning steps:

  • Unscrew the access panel to see the condenser coils. 
  • Look for large debris like leaves, twigs, and animal nests, and remove them by hand. 
  • Use a coil brush with medium-level stiffness bristles to remove smaller debris from the coils. 
  • Straighten any fins that cover the condenser coils. Applying too much pressure when cleaning the coils will cause the fins to bend. 
  • Rinse the coils with water from a garden hose. This step is optional.

Trust the Professionals To Clean Your AC Coils

Cleaning the coils in your air conditioner is an essential AC maintenance step. Instead of asking yourself, “How long does it take to clean AC coils?” let our HVAC experts at Reliable Heating & Cooling deliver fast, dependable results. 

As one of the best local HVAC companies serving Georgetown, MI, and the surrounding areas, our team offers red-carpet customer service, reliable AC repair, and quality HVAC maintenance. Our skilled, licensed team can complete any HVAC job the right way the first time — call (616) 577-7872 to request your appointment today.

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