How to Clean AC Unit Condenser Coils

Spring is in the air, which means spring cleaning is right around the corner! While most people are cleaning up their yards and gutters, make sure to add some HVAC work to your spring cleaning tradition.

Over the winter and cooler seasons, plenty of dirt, dust, debris, and other contaminants get blown around and inevitably make their way into your AC unit. So why not give it a good cleaning?

A good place to start is always your condenser coils. Here’s what you need to do it yourself:

  • Protective gear (gloves, eye wear, apron, etc)
  • Coil Brush
  • Fin Comb
  • Foaming Coil Cleaner
  • Hose
AC Unit Before and After Airmen Air Condenser Coil Cleaning

Step 1: Inspect Your Condenser Coils and Surrounding Area

Make sure the thermostat and the AC unit are both turned off. Start by checking the AC unit, the coils, and the surrounding area. Look for overgrown shrubs and plants that are close to the AC unit, tools or toys that are too close to the AC unit, and any visible damage to the AC unit itself.

If you see see significant damage, we recommend that you reach out to a professional for help. Please also feel free to call us for help.

AC Unit Before Airmen Air Condenser Coil Cleaning

Step 2: Clean Debris from Unit (Hint: Use a Coil Brush)

Once you have inspected the AC unit and its surrounding area, start to remove debris. For the surrounding area, we recommend that you leave at least 2 feet of clearance around the sides of the AC unit and at least 5 feet of clearance on top of the unit.

For the condenser coils themselves, you may remove any large debris by hand, but use the coil brush as much as you can. The coils have delicate fins that can bend quite easily (more about this in the next section), so its best to use specialized equipment to perform these tasks.

Airmen Air Brushing Condenser Coils of AC Unit

Step 3: Straighten Out the Coil Fins

Once all the dust, dirt, and other contaminants have been removed, you may notice the coil fins of the AC unit have been warped or bent. This is where you would straighten them out with your coil fin brush. A coil fin brush is an inexpensive tool with sturdy, adjustable prongs. This will allow you to straighten out the coils and remove debris that is harder to reach.

It is very important that the condenser coil fins are straightened out to the best of your ability. Any blockages (including debris) prevent the inflow and outflow of air from your AC unit. This causes the unit to work harder, reducing efficiency and the lifetime of your AC unit, and driving up energy usage and repair costs.

Airmen Air Combing and Straightening Fins of AC Unit Condenser Coils

Step 4: Clean Coils with Foaming Condenser Coil Cleaner

Lightly spray the condenser coils with your hose to remove excess dirt and debris. Next, spray a liberal amount of the foaming condenser coil cleaner onto the coils in a back and forth motion. As the foam expands to collect dirt and contaminants. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes before proceeding to the next step.

Airmen Air Spraying Foam Cleaner on Condenser Coils

Step 5: Rinse Away the Coil Cleaner with Your Hose

After you’ve let the condenser cleaner sit and foam up for at least 10 minutes, it’s time to rinse it away. It’s best to use your hose for this job. Make sure to spray the fins straight on so you don’t bend them. Make sure to also start at the top and work your way down, spraying in a back and forth motion.


If the condenser coils still require additional cleaning, repeat steps 4 and 5. Be careful to avoid direct contact with the condenser coil cleaner and your skin. Remember that eye wear, gloves, and even an apron are recommended as appropriate protective gear.

Airmen Air Rinsing Condenser Coils of AC Unit

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