Do My HVAC Coils Really Need to be Cleaned?

The short answer is YES. Here is why…

Whether we are talking about our vehicle getting a routine oil change, annual checkups at the doctor’s office or the buildings we work in everyday, proactive care is crucial to preventing and often diagnosing major problems before they occur. Unfortunately, the truth is not all of us think about these things on a regular basis…

Let’s assume you know that, at a minimum, it is important to change your air filters on a regular basis. Of course, the frequency of how often you change them depends on many factors, but we can discuss that another time. Changing your HVAC systems air filters is Preventive Maintenance 101 and should not be missed. However, it’s important to dive a little deeper than that.

How often do you think of your comfort systems evaporator and condenser coils? Do you even know what those are or where they are located? Most people don’t. I won’t get technical here, but do know this, those coils are integral parts of your HVAC system and are crucial to keeping you comfortable. I bring this up because dirty A/C coils will cause your system to run longer, run hotter and will cost you a lot more to operate. In addition, it will also cause you to burn through components faster.

Basically, this is what happens – throughout any given year, your HVAC system draws air in over the coils. Outside air contains dust, dirt, debris, pollen, grass clippings, etc. which can all get hung up in the coils. If left there, the system works harder to pull more air through and due to the impacted “dirt” your entire system starts to become overworked. This same thing can happen to indoor coils, and those operate in a moisture rich environment. As pollen, dirt and other biocontainments get stuck in the coils, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and mold creating indoor air quality and in bad cases health problems. This is not something you want for your family and employees health or for your operating budget.

Here is what we know:

  • According to a 2010 Southern California Edison (SCE) report, dirty evaporator coils can cause up to 40% reduced cooling capacity for your space along with a 35% decrease in energy efficiency.
  • That same report showed dirty condenser coils can lead to 40% degraded cooling capacity and about 60% in reduced energy efficiency.
  • Multiple other studies, including those performed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) prove that you can save 10-25% of the average operating cost of your HVAC unit by cleaning both sets of coils annually.
  • The US DOE says that a “dirty condenser coil can increase compressor energy consumption by 30%”
  • Carrier Corporation tells us that an average 10 ton cooling system with moderately dirty condenser coils will use 16,800 KWH/season and that same system with clean condenser coils only uses 12,300 KWH/season. If you base that on $.097/KHW those clean coils save you $436 per year. Imagine how those savings can add up on commercial and industrial facilities!

So, what’s the bottom line?

The simple addition of having your coils professionally cleaned to your proactive maintenance schedule will not only save you money, but will keep your system running longer and help keep everyone safe, healthy and more productive.

Quick side note – PLEASE do not try and clean coils yourself! There are many different types of coils with different fin spacing and using the wrong tools or chemicals can often cause major damage. Evaporator and condenser coils are some of the most expensive parts on your system to replace!