During the heat of summer, it is crucial that your air conditioning unit functions properly. The evaporator coils and condenser coils are essential to every AC’s proper functioning. Furnaces produce heat, but air conditioners do not produce cold air. Instead, they utilize refrigerant or coolant to absorb the air’s heat. After absorbing heat from the air, the unit releases warm air into the outdoors. During this process, refrigerant circulates in a constant motion, removing more heat.
What Are Evaporator Coils?
The air conditioner’s evaporator coils are also called the evaporator core. This component is where the refrigerant absorbs heat, which is the source of cool air. In most AC units, the coils are located near the air handler or inside. In addition, there is a blower fan that is somewhere nearby. Most of the time, the coils will be composed of aluminum, steel, or copper. Since these metals conduct heat well, they are the most popular choice. If you look closely at a residential unit’s coils, they will be bent into a u-shaped configuration. These are then set into panels, and these panels are in an A-shape.
Each panel has a liner of thin metallic pieces called fins. These fins direct the air closer to the coil, maximizing their effect. When air comes into the system, the fins push it toward the coils naturally. Then, when you turn on the AC, the compressor starts working. The compressor’s effect is to pull cold, low-pressure refrigerant through the tubing. Before the refrigerant enters the evaporator coil, it circulates through the expansion valve.
An expansion valve is designed to relieve pressure from the liquid refrigerant. This process results in it losing thermal energy and becoming cooler. This cooling effect happens at a rapid pace, and the refrigerant can become quite cold. Since it has lost so much thermal energy, it can absorb more heat from the air when it contacts it.
Another purpose of the expansion valve is to control the flow of refrigerant. In some cases, air conditioners have advanced thermostatic expansion valves. These components give the AC precise control over the refrigerant’s flow rate. As a result, the system’s overall efficiency is improved.
While the refrigerant flows, a blower fan sucks in hot air and blows it on the coil. When the passing air comes into contact with the coil, the refrigerant absorbs heat. Consequently, the refrigerant begins to warm up, expand, and evaporate.
At the same time, water vapor from the household air starts to condense. It reaches a critical point and converts into liquid water. This water is collected in the condensate pan, directing the fluid outdoors. Therefore, the coils also function to reduce the humidity of your house.
How to Clean Evaporator Coils?
Sometimes, the coils on an AC will become dirty and covered in grime. As this happens, the coil begins to operate at a lower efficiency. If you want to keep the coil working in tip-top shape, it must be cleaned. Otherwise, your system will not operate as well as it should, costing you money. Proper air conditioner maintenance can reduce your energy usage and reduce frost build-up. Additionally, it can eliminate impairments to heat absorption and improve pressure.
Even if the coil is relatively new, a layer of dust will impair its function. Dust behaves like an insulator, preventing heat from penetrating the system. Since the air is kept away, the coil cannot do its job. Thus, your system will need to run longer to produce the same cooling effect. If you lower the temperature, it will take longer for the adjustment to complete too.
A dirty coil leads to inefficient heat absorption by the refrigerant passing through. As a consequence, it does not heat up as much as it should. Then, the colder refrigerant will cause the water vapor in the air to freeze instead of condense. If you let an evaporator go long enough, the entire component can freeze over.
If you inspect the coils and notice frost formation, that is not normal. Continuing to run the system could lead to significant damage. Eventually, the entire equipment can fail, and you must buy a replacement.
Always check your coils for frost accumulation, and look at the outdoor condenser unit. In some cases, a dirty air filter or a refrigerant leak can cause evaporators to freeze. If you suspect your system has a problem, you should contact a professional.
Sometimes, corrosion can cause tiny pinhole leaks in the coils. This occurs because chemicals in the household air mix with the condensation. You can look at the evaporator for oily residue in or around the drain pan. If you find some, this is a sign that your coil is leaky and needs to be replaced. Contact our professional technicians if you need help maintaining your air conditioning unit or need repairs.