Maintaining the coils of your central air unit is essential for ensuring optimal performance, especially given the range of weather conditions experienced in the Philadelphia area. Here’s how to effectively clean the coils in your central air unit:

Materials Needed

  • Coil Cleaner: Use a commercial coil cleaner that is appropriate for the type of coils you have. These cleaners are formulated to remove dirt, debris, and buildup without damaging the coils.
  • Garden Hose: For rinsing off the cleaner and any dislodged debris.
  • Soft Brush or Fin Comb: To gently remove any stubborn debris without bending the fins.
  • Protective Gloves and Glasses: To protect yourself from chemicals and debris.

Steps to Clean the Coils

  1. Power Off the Unit:

    • Ensure your safety by completely powering off the unit before starting any maintenance.
  2. Access the Coils:

    • Remove the protective cover or grill if necessary. In many Philadelphia homes, especially in areas like the Main Line or Bucks County, the units might be surrounded by vegetation, so clear any plants or debris around the unit.
  3. Apply Coil Cleaner:

    • Spray the coil cleaner across the coils evenly. Allow the cleaner to sit for the time specified on the label, typically 5-10 minutes. The cleaner will foam and lift the dirt out of the coils.
  4. Rinse the Coils:

    • Using a garden hose, gently rinse the cleaner off the coils. It’s important to use a gentle stream to avoid bending the fins or damaging the coils. Philadelphia's water supply is generally suitable for this task without needing any special adjustments.
  5. Straighten Any Bent Fins:

    • Check the coils for any bent fins. Use a fin comb to gently straighten them out as this can significantly affect the efficiency of your unit.
  6. Inspect and Repeat if Necessary:

    • Once the coils are clean and the unit is reassembled, turn the power back on and inspect the unit for any unusual noises or malfunctions. If the coils were very dirty, it might be necessary to repeat the cleaning process to ensure all buildup is removed.
  7. Schedule Regular Professional Maintenance:

    • While DIY coil cleaning can be effective, it’s advisable to have your system checked annually by a professional, especially before the high usage seasons. Technicians can handle more complex issues and check refrigerant levels, which DIY methods cannot address.

Benefits of Clean Coils

  • Improved Efficiency: Clean coils provide better heat exchange, which can significantly reduce your energy bills.
  • Increased Longevity of the Unit: Regular cleaning prevents the system from overworking, which can extend the life of your unit.
  • Better Airflow and Cooling Performance: A clean system delivers better performance, crucial during Philadelphia’s humid summers.

By following these steps, Philadelphia area homeowners can maintain their central air units effectively, ensuring a comfortable home environment throughout the seasons.