cleaning "A" coil

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  #1  
Old 05-02-03, 10:11 AM
kymlm
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Question cleaning "A" coil

Hi.
I just had some an A/C check up and apparently my "A" coils need cleaning. The charge for this is $165 for each. I have two units. I cannot afford this right now. Is it feasible to for us to clean this ourselves? If not is this a fair price? It seems really high to me? We are pretty handy and haven't found too many jobs out of the question for us. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 05-02-03, 11:24 AM
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kymlm:

The price you were quoted is likely in the ballpark.
The part of the coil that has to be cleaned is on the upstream side which is normally hard to get at. You are really being charged for getting at the coil, not the act of cleaning it.
To do this yourself you will have to dismantle some of the sheet metal for sure.
It is impossible to offer step by step advice as all installs are different.
 
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Old 05-02-03, 03:41 PM
poleaxed
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if you would happen to have a cased coil it wouldnt be too difficult to clean.a cased coil is coil with a factory built box around it. it can usually be dismanteled by removing some screws and removing the panels.
if you have a uncased coil your plenumn is covering you coil and you would need to cut a hole prefebly in the front or back to gain access to the underside of the a coil.
you would need some basic sheet metal tools to do the job.
if you do consider making a hole in your plenumn keep in mind that the coil is fragile and expensive componet and doesnt take kindly to sharp objects or screws.
 
  #4  
Old 05-03-03, 06:11 AM
firsthvac
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Dear kymlm--

You should ^5 GregH for his wonderful advice. He is absolute on the money about being able to offer specific advice on coil cleaning. There are different types of A-coils, different A-coil constructions, different A-coil locations, etc. and can be a very lengthy process. A-coil cleaning is best left to someone who has experience with it. The cost was not out of line when you consider how much time it takes, materials involved in the cleaning process, taxes, wear and tear on tools etc. (mysteriously, most of us forget tools do wear out and replacing them is part of the cost for performing our services)

However, should you attempt to DIY, proceed cautiously and please heed the following common mistakes:

TURN OFF THE POWER TO THE UNIT.

Avoid using caustic type cleaners. You'll be working in close quarters and neither you nor the coil will tolerate the chemical reactions very well. Use of cleaners like '409', 'SimpleGreen' or car washing products will usually work just fine unless you have heavy mineral deposits built up on the fins, in which case you'd best have the cleaning done by a licensed service company.

Be sure to rinse the coils thoroughly with plain water to remove any remaining cleaner from the fins and avoid letting debris clog the drain openings.

Don't wipe the coil fins against the grain as they are aluminum and bend easily which will block the proper airflow through the coil. Spend a couple dollars and get a tool called a fin comb. Use it to scrape debris from the coil as wells as re-straightening any bent fins to the proper spacing.

Do remember the coil may not be shiny clean when you finish as it too gets the aged look just like everything else in life Keep the cleaning simple. Too many times I've seen people create more problems from trying to make the darn things look new again (even to the point of trying to spray them with paint which is a definite no-no)

Be sure to reseal any panels or ducting you may have had to open in order to access the coil itself.

And for heaven's sake...don't use any kind of sharp edged metallic object (ice picks, screwdrivers, knives) to poke, prod, or scrape the coils!!! There are copper tubes beneath all those fins which can easily be penetrated and one slip can leave you with an even more expensive problem on your hands.

If you have ANY doubts...don't do it. Bite the bullet and have it done for you. Good luck
 
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Old 05-03-03, 11:31 AM
kymlm
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Question A coil cleaning

Thanks for your info. These units are just under 5 years old and have just gotten dusty. I think one reason I was hesitant to follow the technicians advice is that they wanted to sell me a 5 year $1000 maintenance agreement and I felt like their unit tuneup that cost $70 was mearly a sales pitch. I am unsure how I will proceed but I do appreciate the advice. Thanks!
 
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Old 05-03-03, 01:07 PM
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kymlm:

On what did they base the need to clean the coils?
Did they run the system and then detect a problem with the operating pressures, examine the coils and found them dirty or are you having a freeze-up problem?
 
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Old 05-03-03, 11:46 PM
duffer4
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I could use some help here.

Unlike kymlm I am having freeze-up problems. This will be the third summer on the unit. It cooled when I first turned it on but after dropping a couple of degrees the unit stopped putting out air. I shut it down. No water was coming out of the drain until the unit warmed up. I thought the coil might need to be cleaned and was able to open the panel and look at the intake side of the coil. No dirt or dust but coil seemed to have a blue hue to it and so did some of the water. I imagine I will need a tech but would like a little idea as to what I am up against so I can understand the tech better.

thanks
 
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Old 05-04-03, 05:33 AM
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duffer4:

Your coil could be frozen up.
Some possible causes are; dirty coil, restricted refrigerant metering device, low airflow, low on refrigerant, operating at too low of an outside temperature.
 
  #9  
Old 05-04-03, 08:47 AM
kymlm
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A coil cleaning

Hi again,
I have had no problems at all. I just had a system check-up and was told my coils were dirty. I really felt like they were just looking to sell a job. Because I have two units work adds up. Actually my bills are pretty low compared to my neighbors and both of my AC units seem to run well and efficiently. Are you guys saying that the cleaning might not be neccessary if I am having no problems on my 5 year old units? I was concerned at the time they were just looking to sell a job.
 
  #10  
Old 05-04-03, 09:58 AM
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Of course they were out to "sell" a job.

kymlm:

Anyone in buisness is out to sell a service. Even when you are asked if you would like to "supersize that order" you are likely buying something you don't "need". Or maybe changing the oil in your car when it runs perfectly fine.

It is possible that they detected a slightly low suction pressure or they saw evidence of a lack of maintenance.
Your airconditioner does not have to quit working to require maintenance.
 
  #11  
Old 05-05-03, 08:44 AM
kymlm
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A coil cleaning

I understand what you are saying, a sales pitch is one thing but this sales pitch was more aggressive than usual. The kind that raises tons of red flags. Generally speaking home maintenance is something we keep on top of and will follow recomended preceedures but this company seemed to push too hard for high dollar services. I may call someone else about cleaning the A coils but these guys will definately not be back. I used to work in sales too, and I understand selling but there is definately a point when the sales people need to back off. Plus I would never sell something unnessessary, that is wrong in my book, and it builds customer confidence.
 
  #12  
Old 05-05-03, 11:44 AM
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kymlm:

You may need your coils cleaned and the price could be in the ballpark.
The issue here is one of affordability and customer confidence then, and not one of what is or isn't needed in the way of a/c service.
 
  #13  
Old 05-05-03, 12:53 PM
kymlm
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Thumbs up A coil cleaning

You got it! My confidence in this company was definately compromised. I also hoped that cleaning the A coil was do-able by us. It doesn't seem hard to access, the technician got to it in under a minute. I'll probably look for another company to check it out. Actually, I have a friend who works in commercial AC applications I may ask him for a referal. Thanks for all your help!
 
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