Condenser Coil Cleaning Step by Step
This photo above is of a real condenser coil we cleaned just the other day. The outer fins looked OK but dirt and lint was packed deep inside and the head pressure / condensing temperature were sky high.
This illustrates that sometimes a coil can look OK at first glance but may still need to be cleaned. A close inspection and high head / condensing temperature can be good indicators of a dirty coil.
Before you begin the cleaning you will want to identify the following –
Is it a multi-row coil? If so, you may need to split (separate the rows) to allow for cleaning as shown in the video below.
Is the coil microchannel? – If it is a microchannel coil you will need to take extra care not to damage the coil and to use very mild cleaners or water alone when cleaning.
In general, never use higher pressure than needed that can damage fins and tubing, try to force soil out of the coil rather than in and don’t use stiff brushes that can damage the fins.
Choose cleaners carefully to ensure they meet the requirements of the manufacturer and that they won’t hurt you or the coil. We use viper cleaner from Refrigeration Technologies for most coil cleaning jobs.
Here is the step by step process to perform a great condenser coil cleaning.
- Shut off power and test with a meter
- Wear gloves and safety eye protection when dealing with caustic cleaners
- Unwire the condensing fan motor carefully
- Remove the condensing unit top and set to the side making sure not to scratch the top
- Clean out debris from the bottom and ensure the unit has proper drainage and drain ports clear in the base
- If the unit has a hail guard remove it from the outside
- Protect any controls and electrical
- Pre-rinse the coil from inside out
- Foam the coil with a foam gun using the proper dilution. Build foam from bottom to top on both sides.
- Allow foam to dwell for 5-10 minutes
- Rinse straight through the fins between the tubes from the inside out, working from top to bottom.
- Rinse out the base
- Reassemble carefully ensuring no wires are rubbing or pinched
- Allow the coil to fully dry as it runs before performing final tests
The end result should be lower compressor amps and head pressure and better overall system performance. Here is a video of us cleaning a coil from start to finish.
Bryan Orr is a lifelong learner, proud technician and advocate for the HVAC/R Trade