What do you do if you want something to last a long time? You take care of it! When it comes to your home it’s no different. If you want your toilet to work for a long time, you clean it and stay on top of maintenance so it doesn’t break down. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. It’s why, when you can, taking proper precautions to prevent damage from occurring in the first place is the best thing you can do. This time on the ACE Home Services blog, protecting your condenser and evaporator coils, to keep your AC working for a long time to come!
The Two Coils
The parts and names of the HVAC system can get confusing, especially for those not in the biz. The condenser coil and the evaporator coil are two different coils that make your AC work. The condenser coil is outdoors while the evaporator coil is indoors.
THE EVAPORATOR COIL
The evaporator coil, located inside, has one clear job: to extract heat from indoor air and add it to the refrigerant inside the unit. The evaporator coil is constantly exposed to the flow of air, pulled in by the blower, through all the ductwork. The coil itself is made up of copper tubers with refrigerant circulating through them, a cold vapor usually around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When the heat of the air hits the cool coil, the refrigerant absorbs the heat and then travels through the AC to it’s outdoor counterpart. At the same time as the heat is being pulled into the refrigerant, the warm air hitting the cold coil causes condensation, lowering the humidity of the air.
After leaving the evaporator coil, the now warmed refrigerant flows to the outdoor A/C component. This cabinet has the compressor and the condenser coil. First, it moves to the compressor where the refrigerant is, well, compressed, creating pressure and pushing all the heat energy together, raising the temperature of the vapor. Heat moves from hot to cold. At the higher temperature the refrigerant will easily transfer the heat energy into the cooler outdoor air, through the condenser coil.
THE CONDENSER COIL
Twin to the evaporator coil, the condenser coil is similar in design, however works in reverse. While the evaporator coil picks up the heat indoors, the condenser coil will release the heat into the outdoors, cooling your home. Hot refrigerant vapor is pushed together and releases quickly, condensing back into its liquid state. The liquid then goes right back into the unit to continue its journey to the evaporator coil to start it all over again.
Before we get into how to protect your coils, let’s quickly discuss what potential problems they face.
Potential Coil Problems
Evaporator Coil Problems
You probably already have a fair idea of what could go wrong with your evaporator coil just from our earlier description of it. Since the evaporator coil is continuously exposed to airflow circulated by the blower, it runs the risk of buildup from dust, dirt and grime.
These airborne particles will hit and form a layer covering the coil surface. When the surface is covered, the efficiency of it to transfer heat is greatly diminished, causing poor cooling, and higher energy costs as the system works harder for less return.
Another potential problem is mold. Mold spores can float about in the air and should they hit any wet surface of the coil, they activate, growing into full blown mold. Mold ruins the efficiency of the heat transfer but it also can cause the mold to grow so much and obstruct airflow completely. Nevermind the potential health concerns caused by mold blowing about your home!
Condenser Coil Problems
The condenser coil has a steeper hill to climb when it comes to staying healthy and safe. Why? Well the big thing is it’s location! Condenser coils are located outdoors so they are constantly exposed to the elements as well as debris. Nearby foliage, grass clippings, fallen palm fronds, all sorts of things can find their way to the cause trouble for the condenser coil. Luckily, condenser coils don’t generate condensation like their indoor brothers so mold isn’t an issue usually.
Coil Leaks and Causes
Another potential problem for both coils is a leak. You’ll know if you have a leak pretty quick, or at least you’ll feel it! When the refrigerant is leaking your home won’t cool anywhere near as efficiently as it should, if you notice that give us a call right away to address it!
Leaks can be caused by any number of problems ranging from the easily repaired to the costly replacements:
- Loose or old parts – Valve caps or fittings might be loose and need either tightening or replacement.
- Corrosion – coils can be corroded from a number of causes. When it comes to your condenser coil outside, chlorine from a nearby pool, water from sprinklers, or even animals urinating on the coil could cause corrosion.
- Older aluminum parts – Older HVAC systems might have coils made from aluminum which can corrode over time. If you know your unit is older and are experiencing poor cooling, it might indicate failure in the aluminum components.
- Physical damage – Condenser coils can experience all sorts of physical damage. If you have kids playing outdoors a ball or other toy getting thrown at/into the unti can loosen the coils and cause them to fail. An impact with a lawn mower can similarly rattle and damage the coils.
Protect Your Coils!
When it comes to protection, the first step has to be maintenance!
Evaporator Coil Maintenance
For most folks and their systems, the evaporator coil is sealed in and won’t be easily accessible for your home. For these call in an experienced and qualified HVAC tech! They’ll do a proper inspection, any maintenance as well as cleaning up dust and dirt. If mold is spotted they’ll use EPA-approved methods to disinfect the coil and clear it all up.
Condenser Coil Maintenance
When it comes to taking care of your condenser coil meanwhile, there are plenty of things a homeowner or DIY-er can do to take care of their coil. At least once a year turn off the power to the unit and grab your garden hose. Giving it a good hose down is a fine way to blast away the dirt, dust, and grime. Inspect the unit and look for any damage that might need immediate attention.
And remember, your outdoor units need some space on all sides to perform at peak efficiency. Cut back any vegetation that’s growing nearby, and clear any would be sources of debris (meaning tend to your nearby trees and bushes). Anything you can do today to prevent damage later is the move to make.
The number one thing you can do today to protect your coils is to contact a qualified HVAC professional and get an up to date sitrep! An annual HVAC tune-up is probably just what the doctor ordered for your system.
We all know just how awful Arizona heat can be when an AC breaks down, or even just isn’t working up to standard. Take care of your coils and they’ll take care of you! If you think your HVAC needs some professional TLC, give us a call and schedule your service today! ACE Home Services has been serving the Phoenix area for over 25 years!