You may not know much about HVAC system components, but you probably at least know the basics. Heat pumps, compressors, thermostats, drain lines, refrigerant, etc. But the most important part of your system are ones you don’t really see – coils.
HVAC systems have 2 different types of coil in them that both play an important role in keeping you comfortable. There are evaporator coils and then there are condenser coils. What is the difference between them? Good question.
Evaporator coils (or evap coils, as they are generally abbreviated down to) are usually located inside your home, depending on the type of system you have. They are either come enclosed in a case, or as a part of an air handling unit. An evaporator coil’s function is to absorb heat and humidity from air as it passes through your return to be re-cooled and blown back into your home. As air passes over the evap coils, liquid refrigerant is pumped into them, where it evaporates into a gas form, absorbing the heat and humidity and making for drier and cooler air for the blower to force back through your ducts and into your home.
As the refrigerant in a gaseous state continues to move through your HVAC system, it goes moves through a copper line set where it is channeled into your outdoor condenser (or heat pump, depending on what type of system you have). Eventually, the heated refrigerant gas goes into your compressor, where it is pressurized and condenses back into a liquid form. The newly-liquidized refrigerant then moves on to the condenser coils.
Condenser coils are located on the inside of your outdoor unit behind panels that is covered in small vents. Their function is to release the heat and humidity that was absorbed and channeled by the refrigerant into the air outside your home, propelled by the exhaust fan that you see on top of your outdoor unit (This is why the air being blown up by that fan is warm when you feel it).
So, why are these components so important? Well, we have already touched on their functions. Evaporator coils are basically what cools the air that your AC system blows into your home. Condenser coils help ensure that the evap coils are not just cycling the same humid air through your home. However, like any part in a machine, they must be maintained. Neglecting them is like refusing to change the oil in your car. Eventually, it can lead to a breakdown.
Evaporator coils, if they get dirty, can develop refrigerant leaks. Dirt, dust, and micro particles, especially if you are not regularly changing your filter and cleaning your return off, can build up and cause holes to develop, which will leak refrigerant. These leaks cause several issues. They cause an excess of condensation, which will freeze up your system, cutting off airflow and causing your system to run non-stop while not pushing any air out. Leaks will also make your system run more frequently and less efficiently, failing to meet and maintain your temp setting.
Your condenser coils, being that they are outside, are exposed to the elements, and thus, they also accumulate dirt, particles, and grime. If left uncleaned, the buildup of nastiness on these coils can act as a sort of blanket, trapping heat and humidity inside them rather than releasing it into the air. This trapped heat will build up, causing your system to work hard overtime to meet and maintain your temperature setting. The excessive running and heat buildup will cause your system to overheat, resulting in your compressor failing. The additional stress on a neglected system wears and tears it down much more quickly, which not only leads to incredibly expensive repairs, but it will shorten the lifespan of your system and lead to an even pricier replacement. This is why it is imperative that you have your coils cleaned every 6 months.
How do you know when it is time to get your coils cleaned? Simple. When was the last time you had it done? If you cannot remember, you might want to do it ASAP! (We’d be more than happy to do it for you along with a full 40 point inspection, refrigerant pressure check, and testing your amps/draws/electrical connections! Just give us a call!) If your system is struggling to keep up and you have trees around your house to provide shade and have changed your filters, this may also be a sign it’s time for a cleaning.
Here’s a tip: in order to save money, one may think it easier and better to take the side panels off of their outdoor unit and attempt to clean the condenser coils just by spraying them with a hose. This is not a good idea. The coils and their fins are very sensitive and require gentle water pressure with a special cleaning solution. The water pressure from a hose will damage them. Always have a professional come and perform your semiannual routine preventative maintenance.
We hope that you’ve learned more about how your system works today! If you have not had maintenance done in a while or are interested, we have a special going on right now for tune ups! Just call us today at (864)-578-7575 or set up an appointment via our website or on facebook! And as always, if you have an AC mishap, call BSHAP!
“The Team You Can Trust!”