Get to Know Your Evaporator Coil

How familiar are you with the inner workings of your central air system? Given our hot summers, you probably know the basics such as the air handler and blower, condensing unit, air filter, thermostat, and so on. But what about the evaporator coil? Sure, you may have heard the term here and there and know that it should be cleaned routinely. But how familiar are you with its functions? Better yet, would you know if it needed attention?

Read on as we answer some of the most common questions about this essential component of your AC system.

What is an evaporator coil?

Located inside the air handler, an evaporator coil is the component of your AC that absorbs heat and moisture from the air inside your home. It works hand-in-hand with the condenser coil to produce cool air and complete the exchange cycle. As the air from the blower fan moves over the coil, cold refrigerant removes heat from the air. The refrigerant becomes warmer and travels to the condenser coil located outdoors.

How long do evaporator coils last?

You can expect an evaporator coil to last between 10 and 20 years, or about the same as the life expectancy of the air conditioner itself, assuming the system is regularly maintained. However, if it is neglected, the lifespan of the system and its components can be drastically shortened.

Can evaporator coils be cleaned?

Evaporator coils should be cleaned regularly otherwise they can collect dust, debris, and soot. During annual HVAC maintenance, a technician will blow air through the coils in the opposite direction of normal airflow, being careful to blow straight through the fins to avoid bending them.

How do I know if my evaporator coil is bad?

Proper diagnosis of a faulty evaporator coil (or any other issue) can keep repairs and replacement costs down. Damaged evaporator coils almost always exhibit symptoms, including:

  • Insufficient cooling
  • Poor airflow
  • Frequent system breakdowns
  • Frequent cycling
  • Unusual sounds
  • Refrigerant leaks
  • Ice formation
  • Soot or dust accumulation

What causes evaporator coils to leak?

There are several reasons an evaporator coil may begin to leak. Wear and tear can be a cause, especially in older systems. Exposure to excess moisture can cause corrosion, which weakens the metal and causes leaks. Accidental impact can also lead to eventual leaks.

Is it worth replacing an evaporator coil?

An air-conditioning system can’t function properly without an evaporator coil. Many homeowners agree that it’s well worth it to replace a damaged evaporator coil and not have to put up with hot,  sticky, sweaty days and sleepless nights that accompany a poorly functioning AC system. However, if your system is approaching the end of its lifespan or if multiple components are malfunctioning, it may be worthwhile to consider installing a new central AC unit. 

Is your AC system not delivering the cool, comfortable air it once did? Or perhaps it’s been a year or more since one of our highly skilled technicians performed an inspection and cleaning. Contact Air Professionals today and make all your AC troubles disappear. 

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