Dirt builds up on the various parts of your air conditioning system over time. As a matter of fact, dirt buildup is one of the most common reasons for air conditioning repair calls. While not all instances of dirt buildup will immediately lead to damage, many often affect the performance, efficiency and air quality of affected air conditioning systems.
Air conditioning and heating units have filters to prevent dust and other particles from being sucked directly into the units and released along with the air blown into the room by the air conditioner. Over time, the filter will become coated with dust and other tiny debris particles. When the filter is clogged with dirt, the HVAC system becomes less effective and uses more energy. It can also turn your home or office into an unhealthy environment.
In many instances of air conditioning repair, the technician finds that the evaporator coil is affected by dirt buildup. This is often a more serious problem, as the evaporator coil is one of the most important parts of your air conditioning system.
What Does the Evaporator Coil Do?
The evaporator coil is located in the air handler or blower compartment of your air conditioning system. Its job is to hold the refrigerant that’s moved into it by the compressor. The cold refrigerant in the evaporator coil is the part of your air conditioner that removes the heat from the air in your home or office. It does this when the blower fan moves air over it.
When the evaporator coil is covered with dirt and debris, it becomes less energy efficient, as well as less effective at cooling your indoor air. In many cases, the evaporator coil will freeze up, which can lead to premature compressor failure. Call a cooling and heating service professional before this gets worse.
Signs of a Dirty Evaporator Coil
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to tell if your air conditioning system’s evaporator coil is dirty. Here are some of the most common signs to watch out for:
Your air conditioning system seems less effective. You’re likely to notice if your air conditioning system doesn’t seem to be blowing the same amount of cold air as it used to. In most cases, the system will still work even with a dirty evaporator coil, but it won’t be as effective at the job. This is because the dirt is serving as a barrier that prevents the coil from removing enough of the hot air circulating in your home.
Your air conditioner doesn’t cycle. The thermostat tells the system if the room has reached the temperature set by the user. When the right temperature has been reached, the thermostat signals the system to stop. When the room temperature changes (becomes warmer), the thermostat tells the system to start up again. This is called cycling. It’s meant to prevent the system from making the room too cold, and it also gives it a rest. If the evaporator coil is dirty, the system might simply keep running because it’s trying but failing to make the room cooler. This means either the cycle will extend or the system won’t cycle at all. Over time, this will quickly wear out the entire air conditioning system, and you’ll be spending money prematurely on a cooling and heating service or replacement.
The evaporator coil freezes. One of the worst effects of a dirty evaporator coil is freezing. It might seem like your air conditioning system should be even more effective if you spot ice on the evaporator coil. However, you might also notice that the system seems to be blowing nothing but room-temperature air. In this case, the dirt buildup on the evaporator coil is preventing the latter from absorbing the hot air in the room, so condensation starts to accumulate on the coil, where it then freezes into ice. If this happens, it won’t be long before your air conditioning system breaks down. This means prematurely spending money on repairs or a replacement.
Taking Better Care of Your Air Conditioner or HVAC System
Inspecting and cleaning the evaporator coil are jobs better performed by an air conditioner and furnace installation expert. If you try to DIY this job, you might end up causing more problems and eventually having to hire an expert anyway to correct them. However, it’s good to know more about taking care of your system and to understand how it works. Here are some tips on how to do it right:
Regularly change your air conditioner filter. Fortunately, you can do this without the help of a professional. If you’re clueless about how to do it, you can watch a pro the first time so you might be able to do it yourself the next time. Your air conditioning unit has a filter for preventing dirt from entering it and getting blown into your living space. The owner’s manual that comes with your air conditioner should have simple instructions on how to change or clean it. Take out the dirty filter every two to three months and clean or replace it, depending on the type of filter your AC unit uses. This will help prevent dirt buildup in your air conditioner, as well as get rid of allergens stuck in the filter. You can also use your shop vac to remove cobwebs, accumulated dust and other debris from the vents.
Use better filters. Whether your air conditioning unit accepts reusable or disposable filters, chances are you can find better, more effective replacement filters as long as they’re compatible with your air conditioner. The better the filter, the more airborne particles it can capture, preventing them from affecting the air conditioner and the air in your living area or workspace. Some AC units will take a HEPA filter, which is one of the most effective filters on the market. It’s so effective that it can even capture coronavirus droplets. However, you have to make sure the filter will work with your air conditioner, because a more effective filter might also force your unit to overwork itself and limit the air that can pass through for effective cooling or heating. Refer to your manual or talk to a professional regarding this if you’re unsure about the type of filter to buy.
Call a professional to maintain your air conditioner twice a year. It’s not enough to clean or replace your AC filter. It’s also important to call a professional and schedule HVAC maintenance at least twice a year. Professionals can spot potential problems and fix them before they become headaches for you. Regular maintenance can also improve your indoor air quality and lengthen the service life of your unit. If you live in a particularly dusty area, you might have to schedule more frequent maintenance.
For HVAC maintenance and repairs, get in touch with Bill Reynolds Heating & Air Conditioning. Call us at (440) 946-7863. We also offer furnace installation and other related services. Message us here with questions about your project or any other concerns you may have.