How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils With Vinegar

Is cleaning air conditioner coils with vinegar effective? The short answer is YES. However, it’s effective only against lighter dirt build-ups.

So, if you’re not dealing with heavily soiled coils, this article is for you. We’ll walkthrough

How to clean air conditioner coils with vinegar

Tips for using vinegar to clean AC coils

Alternative ways to clean AC coils

Can I Use Vinegar to Clean AC Coils?

Yes, you can use a white vinegar and water solution when cleaning AC coils at home. However, vinegar is only effective against lighter dirt buildups. If the condenser coils have some grease, add a tablespoon of baking soda to the vinegar solution and spray the mixture onto the coils.

Cleaning Air Conditioner Coils with Vinegar

To clean air conditioner coils, mix a ¼ cup of vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of dishwashing detergent to the solution and spray onto the AC coils. Give it a few minutes to soak in and loosen the dirt and debris. Wipe away dirt traces with a soft brush or cloth and reapply as needed.

Most AC specialists regard vinegar solution as the best home remedy for cleaning condenser coil. You can try it out as a do-it-yourself (DIY) cleaner by mixing it with water. You can add soap or a dishwashing detergent to enhance the solution. 

Let’s admit it: cleaning the condenser coil with vinegar isn’t an exciting job to do. I mean, opening an AC system and clearing dust and gunks can be pretty frustrating! However, cleaning ac is a crucial part of owning them.

How To Clean Air Conditioner Coils With Vinegar ( Step by Step)

Here are the six steps you can clean the coils with vinegar: 

Step 1: Unplug the Air Conditioner from the Power Source

Most outdoor air conditioners have a shut-off box put nearby. Discard the fuse or open the entrance on the case and flip the switch to cut the power supply to the AC. In most cases, window and wall air conditioner units can be unplugged. If the shut-off box isn’t there, or if you only want an extra layer of safety, turn off the air conditioner through the circuit breaker in your room.

Step 2: Discard the Casing from the Ac Unit

Depending on the AC unit, you will need a screwdriver or a well-sized socket to remove the screws or bolts protecting the case. Once you remove them, remove the case of the air conditioner unit.

Step 3: Pluck the Fan and Lid from the Ac Unit

Many air conditioning units have grills with a fan tied to them mounted on the case. Remove all the screws and pluck the grill from the air conditioning unit’s case. A fan is usually connected, so make sure it’s firm during removal to prevent it from hanging on its electrical connections. Remember to avoid spraying the air conditioner directly with water when cleaning.

Step 4: Clean out the AC’s Drain Line

Most outdoor and indoor air conditioning units have a drain line in the lowermost corner of the pan at the bottom of the air conditioning unit. It looks like a hole, and on some air conditioner models, there is a nozzle with a plastic line or rubber penetrating from the other side. To clean the drain line, pour a 1/4 cup of vinegar and water solution. Next, remove the drain line plug and pour in ¼ cup of distilled vinegar. 

Step 5: Remove Any Large Debris with Your Hands

With the air conditioner case set aside, you can check if there’s any large dirt that may have sneaked into the unit.

Step 6: Reassemble the AC Cover

Let the vinegar and water solution settle for 30 minutes. Afterward, flush the hole with water to ensure the flow is smooth and operating with ease. After that, you can reassemble the air conditioner case.

You will place the white vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle and shake it for about five minutes before spraying it on the coils.

Once you spray the solution in the spray bottle onto the condenser coil, wait for a few minutes, then wipe out the dust and debris left. 

Importantly, to prevent any layer of dust debris from building up, you have to clean the coils every few months. And for effective cleaning, you can add a mild detergent.

Where do you Pour Vinegar in your Air Conditioner?

Unfortunately, with AC’s, the real problems are always invisible. For example, your system may look clean outside, but harmful bacteria are growing inside. Such bacteria may damage your system. As a result, your air conditioner’s performance levels will reduce. Luckily, you can solve that by adding vinegar to your AC’s drain line every two months.

So, what’s a drain line? Well, a drain line is a tiny PVC pipe. When a drain line clogs, the air conditioner starts to leak, something most homeowners realize later.

How much Vinegar to Put in AC?

Earlier, I mentioned that you have to regularly clean your air conditioner’s drain line to avoid clogging. And vinegar was one of the ways to do it. 

You will need a 1/4 cup of vinegar to clean the drain line efficiently; this will destroy any mildew, mold, algae, and other bacteria or fungi. It’s advisable to repeat that every month to get better results.

Alternative Ways to Clean Air Conditioner Coils 

1. Using Compressed Air

You can remove any light dirt or material from an evaporator coil by blowing compressed air through it. And for persistent particles, put the air nozzle on the lowermost side of the dirt. If the pressure is high, blow it directly towards the fins or at a 90-degree angle, this will protect them from possible damage.

Also, the high-pressure air will get rid of any build-up present. Remember, don’t blow dirt and debris towards the ductwork system.

Use protective glasses when cleaning air conditioner coils to keep your eyes safe from the dislodged dirt. If possible, get a vacuum cleaner from the store; it will help collect the materials as they dislodge when cleaning ac.

2. Using a Brush

Compared to the other ways you can clean the coils, using a brush is most effective because you won’t need liquid or chemical solutions. Moreover, you regulate the pressure levels you apply to the condenser coil. Importantly, don’t use wire or hard-bristle brushes, or else you will damage the fins.

3. Using Commercial Cleaners

There’s an abundance of commercial cleaners you can use to clean evaporator coils. Unfortunately, most of them produce foam that dislodges and absorbs the ac unit’s drainage system. But before you pick a cleaner, consult a trusted HVAC contractor.

4. Using Mild Detergents and Water

Rather than using cleaners from the store to clean the air conditioner coils, you can use mild detergents from home. You will need to add a warm mixture of water and detergent in a hand sprayer or a spray bottle.

Keep in mind the amount of water and detergent you used in that solution. After that, apply the mixture to the coils and let it dry out for a few minutes to loosen the debris. Finally, using a soft cloth, clear away any loose material.

5. Heavy-Duty AC Coil Cleaning

The heavy-duty method is suitable for highly soiled evaporator coils since they require solid chemicals and other equipment like pressure washers or steam cleaners. Also, the process may require you to modify the AC system. For example, when removing the coil or reattaching the refrigerant lines.

Importance of Cleaning Air conditioner Coils with Vinegar

The tight spaces between coil fins can lead to the build-up of; debris, dust, dirt, or other pollutants on its surfaces. After a while, the build-up affects the AC’s cooling ability negatively. Hence, the unit won’t be helpful at home in the summer.

So, here is why cleaning air conditioner coils with vinegar is essential:

  1. When you clean an AC’s system with a mixture of vinegar and water, you clear out excess build-up of dust or debris that causes it to overwork. As a result, you will reduce the operating temperatures to suitable levels.
  2. If the coils are dirty, then the system’s overall effectiveness reduces drastically. But if they are clean, the air conditioning system removes excess humidity, and your home’s comfort will improve.
  3. Using vinegar to clean the AC boosts its efficiency, which helps it absorb or send excess heat out of the house.  
  4. Dirty coils increase operational costs of the air conditioner since efficiency decreases.
  5. When an evaporator coil blocks, the compressor runs at high temperatures causing the entire system to overwork. Hence, it’s essential to clean the compressor to help you dodge costly repairs or replacements.

How Often Should You Clean Ac Coils with Vinegar?

Experts recommend cleaning ac with vinegar each month since it eliminates bacteria and other materials that may clog the air conditioner. Moreover, dust on the system’s coils and drain line cause lousy performance in most cases.

How to Know If My Air Conditioner Coils Need Cleaning

If by any chance you notice a gradual drop in the AC’s cooling performance, you may need to run a check-up. So, here are three signs your AC coils will show if they need cleaning

  1. When you go through your electricity bill and you notice an unusual increase, then it’s time to clean the condenser coil. But after cleaning, its efficiency will increase hence reduced electricity bills.
  2. An air conditioning unit runs longer when the coils are dirty since the system works longer and harder to cool your house. Moreover, you will feel the duct expelling air for more extended periods.
  3. When air conditioner coils clog, the heat that needs to flow out remains behind, warming the house. Even if it’s running, it expels warm or less cooled air. Hence, the reduced cooling effect. 

When Should I Call a Professional to Clean My Air Conditioner?

If the air conditioner requires extra maintenance other than the regular one, hire an HVAC professional if it can’t regulate indoor temperature. The technician will identify and fix problems in your ac system.

Cleaning Air Conditioner Coils with Vinegar FAQ

How Much Does It Cost to Clean Air Conditioner Coils?

It’ll cost you $100 to $500 to clean the AC coils as stand-alone maintenance. For better system efficiency, do the maintenance every year and at least once every month. It would be best to do condenser coil maintenance for the outdoor AC during the annual tuneup for $80 to $200. But for duct cleaning, you require $250 to $500, which caters to cleaning the evaporator coils in the indoor air handler.

How Do You Make Homemade Coil Cleaner?

You can make your homemade coil cleaner through the following ingredients:

  1. Vinegar and alcohol – you will need ½ cup of vinegar, ½ cup of rubbing alcohol, and baking soda. 
  2. Baking soda and soapy water – baking soda, dish soap, and water. 
  3. Bleach and water – a bleach and water in the 1:3, where bleach is the smaller portion. You’ll add the mixture to a spray bottle. 
  4. Vinegar and water- 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of water (warm), funnel, and rags or washcloths.

What Is the Best Thing to Clean Ac Coils With?

Vinegar is the best for cleaning most surfaces since it’s a weak acid, less strong to cause damage. But the acid clears away dirt and dust. You can do this easy process by adding vinegar to the drain line.

How Long Before I Can Turn on Ac After Coil Cleaning?

When cleaning air conditioner coils with vinegar, I advise you to dry them for 3 to 4 hours. And afterward, put the pieces back together; you will be ready to go! Also, to get rid of the vinegar smell, place the ac on fan-only mode for 45 minutes.

Using Vinegar to Clean Evaporator Coil

Cleaning air conditioner coils with vinegar is cost-effective compared to hiring HVAC professionals. Interestingly, you only require a spray bottle and a mixture of vinegar and water. 

If you notice your air conditioner isn’t heating or cooling your house efficiently, you need to clean up the dirt and debris around the coils. 

So, which other ways do you use to clean the condenser coils effectively?

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