A few weeks ago I told a customer that his air conditioner wasn’t cooling as well as it should be, and it was due to the condenser coil being so dirty that it couldn’t cool itself off. The customer told me he wanted to save some money so he was going to power wash it on his own. I warned him that a power washer may have to much force and could possibly damage the fins on the coil. He assured me that he knew how to use a power washer.
Dirty Coils and Bent Fins
Two weeks later I received a call to go to the same home for the same problem. The air conditioner wasn’t cooling the house off as well as it should. I asked the customer if he cleaned the coil, and he answered yes. It was true and there wasn’t a spec of dirt on it. I really wasn’t surprised when I examined his air conditioner and found all of the fins had been smashed closed. It’s a typical result of using a pressure washer on aluminum fins. Aluminum fins are very thin and extremely easy to bend. The pressure from the power wash was enough to bend them all closed.
A Professional Job
Service technicians use a commercial grade cleaning solvent to loosen any dirt that accumulates between the fins of a condenser coil. This is the only safe way I know of to clean a coil with out damaging it. Hosing off a coil may clean the dirt off of the outside of the coil, but it doesn’t get all of the dirt
in between the fins. A good chemical cleaning every spring is the best way to ensure your air conditioner will operate at peak performance during the cooling season.
What are Your Options?
As for all of those smashed fins, well they do make a fin comb that will straighten them out fairly well, but it will take hours upon hours to fix a five minute power washing fiasco. If your air conditioner is over 10 years old, my suggestion to you would be to replace the unit. Just replacing the coils would cost more than it is worth, and when you consider the fact that this unit probably doesn’t have much life left, this is the more economical decision.
If your air conditioner is newer, have the coil replaced or spend your next two weekends straightening out the fins with a fin comb. When you’re done the air conditioner should work, but it probably won’t be as efficient as it once was. The best option would be to never use a power washer on your air conditioning system. Instead, trust your trained professional technician from Four Seasons to get the unit cleaned up and running efficiently once more.