What is the best way to clean air conditioner coils?

Cleaning your air conditioner coils will save you from the complications of a faulty or malfunctioning cooling system caused by soiled coils.


The luxury of having an air conditioning unit and enjoying it comes with the need to maintain it well, both on the inside and the outside. The inside might possibly be the most difficult to keep clean, but it is the part that needs the most maintenance.

The inside of an air conditioner contains the evaporator coils and the condenser coils. These coils are important for the optimal functioning of your unit and require special care. They need to be cleaned and kept in a good state, so you should stay informed about the best ways to do so.

Ensuring that the air conditioner coils are well-maintained

The internal components of the air conditioner can be the most delicate. This is why they often require the most care as they play a major role in how well your air conditioner operates.

The coils on the inside unit (air handler) and the outside unit (compressor), both need to be cleaned when a build-up of dirt starts to develop or as part of routine maintenance.

Clean coils will ensure your unit is always working properly. But how can coils be cleaned, you may ask? Let us find out.

What is the best way to clean air conditioner coils?

The condition of your coils will determine how you should clean them. Before proceeding, you need to turn off the air conditioner and thermostat, as well as completely shut off the circuit breaker.

Locate your evaporator coil in the inside unit and the condenser coil in the outside unit. If there is not much dirt build-up on your coils, you can use compressed air to blow the dirt off the coil, directing it in the opposite direction of regular airflow.

You can also use a soft-bristled brush to remove small amounts of dirt from the coils. Simply sweep the dirt away or scrub, if necessary, for tougher dirt, while being careful to ensure that you do not damage the fins.

You can also spray your coils with commercial cleaners that foam up and break down dirt build-up. Spraying mild detergent and water solutions on the coils and wiping it off is another alternative.

When should I consider heavy duty cleaning?

If your coils are too heavily soiled with extreme dirt build-up, you may need to use heavy-duty cleaning chemicals and equipment like steam cleaners or pressure washers.

This process may also require you to take apart more of your unit, such as removing the coil, cutting refrigerant lines, and reassembling it afterwards.

This will call for the assistance of an HVAC professional who will be equipped with all the right gear to safely perform the cleaning and have the necessary training and supplies for heavy-duty cleaning.

Are there any other components of the AC that need to be assessed?

Another important step in the cleaning of your coils is to assess your coil fins. Sometimes the fins can bend, and it is crucial that they remain straight all the time.

If your coil fins appear to be bent, you will need to run a fin brush parallel to the line of the fins slowly to get them straight again.

You will know that the fins are bent if light is reflecting and adding a bright sheen to parts of the coils.

The importance of cleaning your coils

There is very tight spacing between the coil’s fins. Due to the cooling process, surface moisture, and the amount of air that flows across the coils, things such as dirt, dust, debris, and other such pollutants can cause a build-up of soiling on the surfaces of the coils.

As time goes on, the build-up may result in the system struggling to transfer heat into and out of the home, in turn causing the unit to lose its ability to cool efficiently.

The extra effort that the unit exerts as a result of this build-up reduces its lifespan and can be detrimental for your electricity bills.

Final thoughts

The coils of your air conditioning unit are a key component in the optimal functioning of your system. If the coils have too much dirt build-up, the unit will be affected and struggle to cool the space effectively, pushing it to work extra hard when it should not be.

This is why it is important to know the safest ways to clean your air conditioner coils. Cleaning your coils needs to be done with care, but in the case where they are very dirty, heavy-duty cleaning is the best solution.

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