How to Clean Furnace Coils in 5 Easy Steps

Having a well-functioning furnace is quite essential, especially during the cold season. And regular cleaning of furnace coils is one way of ensuring your system keeps working at its best. This is because the coils quickly accumulate dirt that can hinder your system from functioning properly.

While cleaning the coils doesn’t seem that complicated, it’s not as easy as many think. Furnace coils can’t be splashed with water to clean off the dirt. In fact, doing so could cause more damage to your system. Cleaning furnace coils typically involves a longer process, from locating the coils to removing the necessary panels.  

If you suspect your furnace coils are in need of cleaning, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a coil on furnace systems. Remember that if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, hiring a professional is always the best solution.

What are furnace coils?

Before we cover how to clean a coil on a furnace, let’s look at what a furnace coil is. How do furnace coils help heat your indoor air? An HVAC system has two types of coils: condenser coils and evaporator coils.

Condenser coils are located in the outdoor unit, while evaporator coils are fitted in the indoor unit or the furnace. This post will cover evaporator coils, which are also called furnace coils. Furnace coils, or evaporator coils, have two main functions. 

In hot weather, the coils absorb heat from the indoor air and transfer it outdoors. When your furnace is heating indoors, the coils act as heat exchangers, transferring the heat generated by the furnace to the air blowing over them. The heated air is then blown through the ductwork throughout the house.

How to clean furnace coils

These coils play a crucial role in heating and cooling your indoor air, so it’s important to keep them clean. This section will walk you through the furnace coil cleaning process. 

  1. Turn your furnace off 

Before you begin cleaning or repairing any machine, always turn off the power source first. When cleaning furnace coils, it’s important to make sure that your furnace system is off as it can be hazardous to start cleaning if you don’t. 

Not turning your system off puts you at risk of electrocution and could damage your furnace system.

  1. Locate the coils

When you are sure that the furnace power is off, locate the furnace coils. As mentioned earlier, the coils are either inside the air handler or the furnace, depending on your HVAC system. Refer to the owner’s manual to find out where the coils are.

You should also use the user manual to help you remove the access panel to get to the coils. After the panels are off, you can assess the coils to see how much dirt has accumulated on them. From here, you can decide which cleaning method will be ideal.

  1. Clean the coils

There are several methods you can use in your furnace coil cleaning process. The method you choose will largely depend on the condition of your furnace coils. 

  • Use a brush

Here, use a soft-bristled brush to get the dirt off the coils. The method is appropriate when you see a lot of dust on the coils.

Simply scrub the dust from the coils with the brush, and you’ll be good to go. This is a quick and easy method, and the best part is that you don’t even need a detergent to get the job done. 

  • Compressed air method

The compressed air method works well when there isn’t much dirt on the coils. All you need to do is to use an air blower to remove the accumulated dirt. Cleaning a coil in a furnace has never been easier! 

  • Use a detergent and some water

If you encounter stubborn dirt or grease on the coils, the compressed air or brush methods won’t work.

Here, you will need water and a mild detergent to clean the dirt and grease. Mix some detergent with water and spray the coils with a spray bottle. Wait a few minutes (depending on how stubborn the grease is), and the dirt should slide off as you wipe it. Once the coils are clean, dry them with a dry cloth.

  1. Put back the furnace coil access panels

After the coils are clean and dry, you are almost done cleaning the coil in your furnace. The next step is to refasten the lid or furnace coil access panels. Ensure that the panels are well sealed with HVAC tape.

  1. Turn the power on

Since you switched the power off before you started the cleaning process, you can switch it back on now that you’re done. Monitor the furnace and see how it operates. If you did the job right, you should notice improvements in the furnace’s efficiency.

Crucial things to note when cleaning furnace coils

Now that you know how to clean a coil in a furnace, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind. 

Always wear protective gloves and a face shield

When cleaning a coil in furnace systems, wearing protective gear is essential. This will prevent dirt and dust from entering your eyes, especially when using the compressed air method. The gloves can also protect your hands from any sharp objects during the process or any harmful chemicals in the cleaning detergent. 

Use minimal water

Using excess water to clean the coils can damage your system. Therefore, use the water sparingly, through a spray bottle or a wet cloth.

Be keen on cleaning chemicals

Don’t use just any cleaning agent or detergent. Only use the recommended ones for that job. You can find these at your local hardware store. 

Need help cleaning your furnace coils? Let Anderson Air help. 

After reading this guide on how to clean a coil on a furnace system, you may want to tackle this HVAC project on your own. However, while it can be straightforward, it does have risks, especially for beginners. 

If you need assistance with your HVAC system, call an HVAC expert to assist you. Anderson Air has qualified technicians, so you can be confident that your furnace system is receiving the best care possible. 

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