The warm summer months will soon be here and it is time you look at one of the most costly problems you could have affecting your air conditioning system. When I first moved to Georgia in the early 70’s, I could not believe the abundance of the sticky, slippery red clay that is everywhere in our lovely state. It’s hard to clean off your shoes, impossible to get off your white carpet, and slippery as ice. It is also one of the single biggest causes of high cooling bills and inadequate cooling performance in Georgia. The RED CLAY around your air conditioner could be costing you big $GREEN$ by clogging your air conditioner’s coil fins.
An air conditioner cools your home by having air flow through a coil that looks like the radiator on your car. Inside this coil/radiator is a long round tube that freon flows through surrounded by sheets or plates of aluminum. These sheets of aluminum are called fin stock and they pick up the heat rejected from your home in the freon and the airflow across the fin stock transfers the heat to the outside above your air conditioner. When your air conditioner is running the fan pulls air through your coil with a negative pressure. This negative pressure also pulls red clay, dirt, grass clippings, and anything else around your unit up in the fin stock and lodges it tightly in between the round freon tubes and the fins causing the bottom third of your unit’s coil not to transfer heat properly. This clogging will cause your air conditioner to run excessively and will elevate the operating pressure range that is normal for your unit. This in turn will cause premature compressor failure, strain on the electrical starting components of your air conditioner, and will result in high electrical bills and inadequate cooling performance inside your home.
The coils and fin stock of your air conditioner need to be kept very clean and once it is clogged, you cannot simply hose out the dirt and clay because water pressure will just push the debris deeper in the coil. You will need to have a professional licensed contractor apply a acid based coil cleaner that will etch the coil and bubble the dirt and clay out. Then a water bath will leave the coil new and clean and heat transfer will return. When our technicians wash a coil properly, the operating head pressure of a condenser/compressor will drop significantly and cooling temperature drop is restored.
One simple thing you as a homeowner can do is to landscape around your air conditioner unit and cover the ground adjacent to them with small landscaping gravel or rock. A good thick covering of bark will also do the trick. Then make sure you or your landscape company mow the grass away from the unit, not toward it so grass clippings are not sprayed in your air conditioner. These few simple tips will keep you air conditioner running longer at peak efficiency and extend the life of you unit