Learn How This Easy-to-Prevent Problem Could Destroy Your AC

August 28, 2014

All central air conditioner repairs are expensive. But there’s one easy-to-prevent problem that could destroy your central air conditioner: a dirty evaporator coil.

We’ll explain:

  • What an evaporator coil is
  • Why a dirty evaporator coil leads to costly AC breakdowns
  • How to prevent the coil from getting too dirt

What is an evaporator coil?

The evaporator coil (pictured here) is the part that physically cools your home’s air.

Here’s how.

  1. The air handler, located in the inside unit, pulls in air from your home and blows it over the cold evaporator coil, a series of copper tubes filled with cold refrigerant.
  2. The cold refrigerant absorbs the heat in the air
  3. The cool air is redistributed back into your home.

Learn how an air conditioner works on Energy.gov.

Why a dirty evaporator coil leads to costly AC breakdowns

Basically, a dirty evaporator can eventually lead to your AC overheating and damaging the compressor (a VERY expensive part).

Here’s how that happens:

  1. Dust and dirt covers the coil, reducing airflow over the coil.
  2. Because it can’t absorb as much heat, the cold evaporator coil temperature falls into freezing levels.
  3. Condensation on the coil freezes, turning the coil into a big block of ice.
  4. The frozen evaporator coil now blocks airflow, so your home won’t be cooled properly, causing the AC to run continuously.
  5. The AC runs continuously until one of 2 things happens: 1) The compressor overheats and breaks down. 2) Liquid refrigerant flows back through the suction line and into the compressor, damaging it (this is called “liquid slugging”).

Like we said, the compressor is very expensive to repair. Replacing it is so costly, many homeowners end up replacing the entire outside unit instead because it’s more cost efficient.

How to prevent the evaporator coil from getting dirty

Do these two things:

  1. Remember to change the air filter every month so the filter can catch particles before they get to the evaporator coil.
  2. Get annual professional maintenance because cleaning the evaporator coil is part of a typical visit.

Has it been awhile since your AC has had a tune-up? Contact Advanced Air for a maintenance visit.
Don’t want to forget to get a maintenance visit next year?

Sign up for our CoolClub Maintenance Plan. You'll no longer have to remember when to call for your maintenance. We'll send you a reminder to schedule your appointment at a convenient time.

Advanced Air serves the air conditioning needs of homeowners in Fort Myers, Naples and the surrounding areas. If you have a comfort problem in your home, we can help. Contact us online or call (888) 853-5143.