Keeping the coils of your central air conditioning unit clean is crucial for maintaining efficiency and prolonging the life of the system. Especially in the Philadelphia suburbs, where summer humidity and foliage can clog up your system, regular cleaning is essential. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to help you clean the coils of your central air unit.

1. Safety First

  • Turn Off the Power: Ensure your safety by turning off the power to the air conditioning unit at both the thermostat and the breaker.

2. Access the Coils

  • Remove the Access Panel: Unscrew the access panel on your outdoor unit to expose the coils. This may require a screwdriver or other tools, depending on your model.

3. Inspect and Remove Debris

  • Visual Inspection: Check the coils for any large debris, such as leaves, twigs, or dirt, that can be removed by hand.
  • Use a Soft Brush: Gently brush away any loose debris from the coils using a soft brush. Be careful not to bend the fins of the coil.

4. Apply Coil Cleaner

  • Choose the Right Cleaner: Use a commercial coil cleaner available at hardware stores. These cleaners are formulated to dissolve dirt and debris without damaging the coils.
  • Apply the Cleaner: Following the instructions on the cleaner, spray it onto the coils evenly. Allow it to sit and foam as directed by the product instructions.

5. Rinse the Coils

  • Gentle Rinse: After the cleaner has done its work, gently rinse the coils with a hose. Ensure the water pressure is not too strong to avoid bending the fins.
  • Reinspect: Make sure all cleaner and debris are rinsed away. Any leftover cleaner can attract more dirt.

6. Check and Straighten Coil Fins

  • Inspect Fins: If any fins are bent, use a fin comb to gently straighten them out. This tool can be purchased at most hardware stores.
  • Improves Airflow: Straightening the fins helps maintain efficient airflow through the coils.

7. Replace the Access Panel and Restore Power

  • Secure the Panel: Once the coils are clean and dry, replace and secure the access panel.
  • Turn on Power: Restore power to the unit both at the breaker and the thermostat.

8. Monitor the System

  • Check Performance: After cleaning, monitor your air conditioning unit for any signs of improved performance or potential issues. Listen for unusual noises or check for leaks.


Cleaning your air conditioning coils is a great way to improve efficiency and cooling performance, especially during the hot, humid months in the Philadelphia suburbs. Regular maintenance like this can extend the life of your unit and reduce energy costs. Remember, if you’re unsure about any steps, or if the unit still shows problems after cleaning, it might be wise to call a professional for help.