Atlas AC Repair, LLC

Austin – Dallas – Fort Worth – Houston – San Antonio

Cleaning AC Coils Guide For 2022

Cleaning Home AC Coil guide

Cost to clean an indoor evaporator coil by an HVAC contractor

  • Light clean in place – $350
  • Pull and clean – $800
Cost to clean an outdoor condenser coil by an HVAC contractor
  • Light H2O wash – $125
  • Medium H2O wash – $225
  • Chemical clean – $335

Cost to clean an indoor evaporator coil

It’s very typical for many homeowners in the middle of summer to experience their air conditioner is not quite keeping up. So they call an HVAC contractor to find out what is going on. The technician tells you the evaporator coil is dirty and keeps your AC from working at 100%. They give you a price, and you are asking, “does it really cost this much to clean an AC?” This page was created to help clarify the cost and work involved in cleaning an air conditioner coil. The cost to clean an evaporator coil can range from $350 to $800, depending on how dirty it is.

Detailed Pricing Breakout

Item Clean In PlacePull & Clean
Diagnose System$120$120
Pump Down System-$30
Gain Access To Coil$30$30
Cutaway Evap Coil-$120
Clean Evap Coil$140$140
Reinstall Evap Coil-$120
Close Air Handler$30$30
Add Freon To System-$60
Calibrate System$30$120

Clean-in-place process

A clean-in-place is only for evaporator coils that are a little dirty. This process will not work for a system heavily impacted by dirt. A clean-in-place is not very common because the tech can’t gain access to the inside of the coil on many systems.

Clean in place

  • Remove the cabinet panel 
  • Remove the evaporator panel
  • Maneuver inside the evaporator coil
  • Spray foam the coils
  • Brush the coils
  • Close the evap coil
  • Close the cabinet panel
The evaporator coil is located inside the blower compartment or air handler, and even a fine layer of dust reduces its efficiency.

Pull-and-clean process

The evaporator coil is the part of an air conditioner or heat pump that absorbs the heat from the air in your house. Dirty or corroded coils significantly reduce AC efficiency leading to poor cooling performance and increased strain on the entire system.

A pull-and-clean is far more common than a clean-in-place because a pull-and-clean will always get the job done, while a clean-in-place is dependant on access and how dirty the coils are.

Pull and clean

  • Pump down the system / remove the freon
  • Remove the cabinet panel 
  • Cutaway the evaporator coil
  • Move the evap coil outside for cleaning
  • Spray cleaning chemicals on the coil
  • Thoroughly brush and clean the evaporator coil
  •  Install the evaporator back inside the air handler
  • Close the cabinet panel
  • Add freon back into the system
  • Calibrate the system

Cost to clean an Outdoor condenser coil

The outdoor AC condenser is exposed to elements and, over time, can get dirty enough to the point it stops cooling correctly. Depending on how dirty it is, you may only need a light H2O wash, or if it’s extremely impacted with dirt, you may need a chemical clean. To have an HVAC technician clean your outdoor AC condenser coil can cost the average homeowner from $125 to $335.

Item Light H2O WashMedium H2O WashChemical Cleaning
Diagnose System$60$60$60
Remove Top And Side Panels-$30$30
Blow Out Hi Volt Area$30$30$30
H20 Wash Coils$35$75$35
Chemical Clean Coils--$150
Reassemble AC Condenser-$30$30

H2O Wash process

An H2O wash is a fast and simple way to clean the outdoor AC condenser coils. A light H2O is great for annual maintenance. A medium H2O wash is ideal when there is some dirt buildup all the way through the coil fins.

Light H2O Wash

  • Remove service panel
  • Blow out high voltage area
  • Close service panel
  • Spray down coils with water

Medium H2O Wash

  • Remove service panel
  • Blow out high voltage area
  • Close service panel
  • Remove top and side panels
  • Spray inside and outside coils with water
  • Reinstall top and side panels
Cleaning AC unit

Chemical Clean process

A chemical clean is typically done for outdoor condensers with an extremely dirt coil. This could be an inexpensive solution to get your AC to blow cooler air.

Chemical Clean

  • Remove service panel
  • Blow out high voltage area
  • Close service panel
  • Remove top and side panels
  • Brush out fins
  • Spray inside and outside coils with water
  • Spray inside and outside coils with cleaner
  • Reinstall top and side panels

How Dirty evaporator coils effect your AC

You might be thinking, “Is a clean evap coil really that important? A little dirt has never hurt anything.” You may be surprised to find out that a severely impacted evaporator coil can cause an HVAC system to fail years before it should have.

Good airflow is critical for evaporator and condenser coils. Both these components transfer heat, and dust or debris interferes with their ability to do this.

It can Kill Your System

The best way to understand how a dirty coil affects the life of your system is to first look at how an air conditioner works. The evaporator coil works like a big radiator; air will pass through the coils to change the air temperature for your home. If an AC coil gets dirty, the dirt acts as an insulator, making it difficult to convert the air temperature and forcing your system to run longer and harder. The added stress on the system eventually leads to more repairs and shorter useful life. It can shorten the system’s life by as much as five years.

Loses efficiency

It feels like year after year the electric bill keeps going up. Many homeowners are unaware that the higher electric bill could be coming from dirty coils. Since your AC has to run longer and harder to keep your home cool due to dirty coils, it can run up your electric bill. If your electric bill has been going up for the last few years, you might want to get an HVAC company to take a look at your air conditioner.

Clean-in-place vs pull-and-clean

Open air handler

Clean-In-Place Evap Coil

A clean-in-place is a relatively simple process because the evaporator coil does not have to be removed from the furnace/air handler to clean. The important thing to note is a clean-in-place is typically only done for evap coils that are only slightly dirty, like in the picture. If the coil is dirtier than what is seen in the picture, you might do more harm than good. In that case, a pull-and-clean is required.

DIY clean-in-place Evaporator Coil

Step 1

  • If you are a homeowner who wants to do a clean-in-place yourself, safety comes first. I recommend turning off the thermostat and turning off the electrical breakers to the system. There are a lot of electrical components on your HVAC system; the last thing you need is to get shocked by 110v or 220v, so make sure all power is off.

Step 2

  • Access the evap coil to do the work. The system type you have will determine how you get to the evaporator coil. A closet/upflow system is easy to access, while a gas furnace is more difficult.
  • A heat pump or straight electric system – An access panel on the air-hander can be opened to gain access.
  • Gas system – Cut the supply plenum.