What Happens If Your AC Coils Are Dirty?
June 21, 2021
The heavy, humid air here in Florida carries more dirt and dust, which is bad news for your air conditioner. If your AC isn’t regularly cleaned, all that extra dust and dirt can eventually settle into the unit and coat the outdoor and indoor coils.
Although it’s tempting to believe that a little dirt is harmless, the opposite is true when it comes to HVAC equipment. If your AC coils are dirty, you’re likely to experience several issues with your air conditioner, such as:
- More frequent breakdowns
- Higher energy bills
- An uncomfortable home
- A frozen evaporator coil
To help you understand the importance of regular AC cleaning and maintenance, let’s explore these potential issues in more detail.
If your AC coils are dirty, a licensed HVAC professional at Red Cap can provide comprehensive AC system checks to make sure your AC is clean and running safely and smoothly.
Issue #1: More frequent breakdowns
If your coils are dirty, they won’t be able to work properly and your AC will work longer and harder than it should. The more your AC strains, the more likely it is that your AC will break down.
There are two different types of coils located in your air conditioner: the evaporator coil and the condenser coil.
The evaporator coil is located in your indoor AC unit near the air handler. As warm air is absorbed by the indoor AC unit, it is blown across the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil holds the chilled refrigerant, which absorbs the heat from the air to dump outside. If dirt builds up on your AC’s evaporator coil, it essentially becomes a barrier for the coils being able to absorb much heat. Therefore, all that extra heat just continues to circulate inside your home.
The condenser coil is located in your outdoor AC unit. Its job is to release the heat outside after it’s carried out of your home by the refrigerant. However, if the coil is covered by a thick layer of dirt, the heat will be trapped and the air blowing back into your home will be warm.
Now that you know there are two coils in your AC that can get dirty, let’s get down to the main issue: In both of these scenarios, dirt buildup on your AC’s coils forces the system to run much longer because it’s not as efficient at cooling your home’s air as it should be. The extra wear-and-tear on your air conditioner means it’s more likely to break down in the future.
Issue #2: Higher energy bills
Dirt will make your AC less efficient, which means you’ll have higher energy bills each month.
Dirt buildup on your AC’s coils will make it difficult for the system to absorb and dump heat, causing the system to be less efficient. You may even start to feel like your AC is running constantly.
Naturally, when your AC needs to run longer, it uses more energy. This means you’ll pay more to cool your home and the hottest summer months in Florida may suddenly become a huge financial strain.
Issue #3: An uncomfortable home
Dirty AC coils make it more difficult for your air conditioner to cool your home.
Air conditioners don’t create cool air. Instead, they extract the heat and humidity from the air inside your home. Unfortunately, AC coils that are covered in dirt will insulate your system and prevent it from releasing the heat it extracts. As a result, that warm air will continue to circulate and your AC will struggle to get rid of it.
When your air conditioner isn’t working properly, you’ll feel it. Your home will get more hot and humid than normal—especially in the middle of a Florida summer. So it’s best to make sure to get your AC coils cleaned so you stay comfortable in the summer.
Issue #4: A frozen evaporator coil
When an evaporator coil is very dirty, it can’t absorb the warm air blowing over it. Without any warm air to counteract the refrigerant (a very cold chemical agent) inside of it, the coil can freeze over.
A frozen evaporator coil is never a good thing. If your coil remains frozen while your air conditioner runs, it will put too much strain on your system and could cause extensive damage. Your AC’s compressor is particularly vulnerable to damage if your evaporator coil is frozen because it can overheat and burn out.
If your evaporator coil is frozen, you should turn off your AC immediately and call a trusted HVAC professional. Signs of a frozen evaporator coil include:
- Ice around the outdoor refrigerant line
- Puddles of water near the blower unit
- Warm air coming out of your AC
- AC running constantly
Learn more in our “How to Unfreeze Your AC: What to Do If You Have a Frozen Evaporator Coil” blog
Avoid Costly Breakdowns: Have Your AC Cleaned and Serviced By Red Cap
Who knew dirt could cause so many issues for your air conditioner? Fortunately, keeping your AC clean is easy with annual maintenance and AC system checks. At Red Cap Plumbing and Air, we treat our customers like family and we’ve been helping Florida homeowners maintain their air conditioners for years. We would love the opportunity to earn your trust too. Contact us today to schedule your AC service.
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