How To Clean Evaporator Coil Without Removing

AC owners should clean their evaporator coils regularly to avoid any unexpected malfunctions.

A dirty evaporator coil can cause significant inconveniences. Maintenance is always better than paying for repairs or replacements.

You can clean your evaporator coil without removing the whole unit using coil cleaning sprays and rinsing with water.

Air conditioning units are reliable devices that give comfort during the summer months. It’s a necessity in areas where the summer air can become unbearable.

But like other devices, an AC is only reliable if it is maintained and cleaned regularly. Regular cleaning is essential for AC components like the evaporator coil. 

Why Is Cleaning Evaporator Coil Important?

Did you know that maintenance neglect causes a huge chunk of possible AC problems? According to the US Department of Energy, inadequate maintenance for filters and coils can make the AC unit not work correctly. Dirt layers, molds, and algae growths can block the airflow, causing a plethora of problems. 

Regular cleaning does not only prevent you from getting unnecessary headaches. It all also helps you save money in the long run. If you need more convincing, check out why cleaning the evaporator coil is an essential habit of getting used to. 

Efficient Cooling

A clean evaporator coil is more efficient in cooling warm air. The chilled refrigerant around the coil can cool the air’s temperature with only the minimum power requirement consumed. And since the air gets colder a little bit quicker, you don’t have to switch your AC frequently. 

Longer Evaporator Coil Life

A dirty evaporator coil can facilitate algae growth and accumulate dirt layers. These dirt layers can cause corrosion in the coil’s surface which can lead to refrigerant leaks. If left unchecked, these dirt layers can cause significant equipment problems. 

Cleaning your evaporator coil will make it less likely to corrode and early replacement. It would let you use your AC unit for a bit longer, with the best performance that it can have.

Avoid Malfunctions

Most AC malfunctions are due to either a faulty fan motor or a dirty evaporator coil. Is your AC blowing warm air or making unusual noises? What about freezing and AC leaks? You can get all of these problems just by leaving your evaporator unchecked. Evaporator coil malfunctions won’t let you use your AC for a period. 

Avoiding Overheating Compressor

When the evaporator coil is clogged, the air compressor makes an extra effort to pump enough air. This extra pump boost will require more power and additional movement for your compressor. Your air compressor might overheat, causing more complications in the unit. Overheating of the air compressor is easily avoidable by keeping your evaporator coil clean. 

Keeps A Good AC Airflow

Airflow is crucial in the whole air conditioning unit’s performance. Almost all the inefficiencies in operation are usually caused by clogged airways, especially in the evaporator coil. Since the evaporator coil is responsible for cooling, a clog in its area will prevent the component from doing its job. Hence, keeping the airway clean is needed for a smooth AC operation. 

Saves Money In The Long Run

And last but not least, the essential consideration for cleaning your evaporator coil is its money savings. Maintaining your evaporator coil’s good condition will prevent a costly emergency purchase and avoid the need to pay for repairs. 

How Long Do Evaporator Coils Last?

A good AC unit usually comes with a hardy evaporator coil that can last for a decent period. Most air conditioning units don’t even need a coil change even after a long time. But to achieve this, the evaporator coil should be maintained and regularly cleaned. Evaporator coils need to be in top condition as long as you’re using them. 

On the other hand, an unmaintained evaporator coil will deteriorate quickly, ending its usefulness earlier. An evaporator coil maintained properly can last for up to 10 years. You can extend this to 15 years or even more if you’re not using the AC as often as possible.

How Do I Know If My Evaporator Coil Needs Cleaning?

Just like any machine, your evaporator coil will show tell-tale signs that it needs a cleanup. Fortunately, these signs are not hard to miss. Once one or more of these warning signs started to appear, it’s time to get your hands dirty and get into a cleaning mood. 

  • AC is overworking – ACs try to accurately match the room’s temperature with the one programmed in the thermostat. If the weather rarely changes, there’s no reason for your AC to give an extra boost in cooling your air. If your AC gradually takes longer to shut down, there might be a clog in the evaporator coil that slows down the airway. 
  • Extended AC operation – As mentioned before, unless there’s a new hole in your indoor area, your AC should always give users the same amount of power to function as before. Before checking any unplugged holes in the wall, it’s better to check for any blockage in your evaporator coil first. 
  • Warm air from the vents- Algae growth, mold, and dirt particles will diminish the refrigerant’s effectiveness in cooling incoming warm air. This problem happens due to a poorer heat transfer from the refrigerant to the air. Clogs will even affect the dehumidifying process, which causes other issues, like freezing coil. 
  • Freezing coil- Understandably, most inexperienced AC owners will ignore this sign. A piece of ice inside the AC might be mistaken as to its cooling mechanism. However, freezing can happen when the dehumidifier fails due to the clog in the system. The dehumidifier removes water vapors to keep the vented air cool and dry. If this component fails, the water vapor in the air freezes when passing through the refrigerant. 
  • AC water leaks – This problem is directly related to the freezing coil. While the AC is running, the ice forming inside the coil stays frozen. But once the machine is turned off, the ice will melt and causes water leaks. 

Take the time to learn about evaporator cleaning. It is an essential skill for all AC owners. The instructions below are for cleaning the evaporator coil with commercial coil cleaning spray.

How To Clean Evaporator Coil Without Removing?

Most repair companies remove the evaporator coil from the AC because it can cause a pretty big mess inside the house. These companies try to minimize the flow of water to other AC components. However, removing the evaporator coil is not a task for a beginner.

Cleaning your coils while attached to the AC is possible, but you might need a few tools and cleaning products. 


  • 5/16 screwdriver
  • Dog grooming brush (taped in a stick or pipe)
  • Coil cleaner spray
  • Shop-vac
  • Protective gears (mask and goggles)
  • Flashlight
  • Extra rags (for cleaning and wiping down water leaks)

Turn Off Your AC Unit

Before proceeding to work on your AC, make sure that it’s not turned on. There should be no electricity flowing on it before you can start cleaning your evaporator coil. Once the electricity is turned off, you can begin the cleaning process. Remove the covering panels with your 5/16 screwdriver. Most ACs use this screw, but use the appropriate one depending on your device. 

Brush Off Hair And Dust

Once the evaporator coil (usually shaped like a pyramid) is on view, get your dog grooming brush and scrape off dust particles and other materials. If you attached it on a stick or a pipe, reaching for the backside should not be an issue. You might have to clean your brush several times. 

Apply The Coil Cleaning Spray

The brushing removes all the hard particles sticking in the coil. Use the coil cleaning spray to remove the dirt and grime, which is harder to break and clean. Make sure to cover all the coil’s surface and keep it there for five to 20 minutes (depending on how tough the dirt and grime are.) 

Don’t forget to use your protective goggles and mask to avoid inhaling the fumes from the cleaner. 

Use Your Shop-Vac To Rinse

After the initial spray, it’s time to rinse the foams and suds with water. You can use a Shop-Vac or any other equipment that can spray controlled water. Do your best to avoid hitting the fan motor and other AC electronics. Rinse water will be released in the drain line. 

Final Cleanups

Using your flashlight, make sure that every corner of the coil is perfectly cleaned and doesn’t have any suds on it. This is also the time to check if you missed applying cleaners to any spot. While you’re still in this step, you can also check and clean the condensation pump is installed in your system.


Keeping your evaporator coil in a great shape and clean state should be a habit as an AC owner. Regular maintenance keeps your AC performance smooth and extends its useful life.

You can use a coil cleaning spray to minimize the water to use while cleaning. By doing so, you don’t have to remove the evaporator coil from the AC unit.