How To Clean Mold From Air Conditioner AC Coils

Do you know how to clean mold from air conditioner AC coils and why should you attempt to clean off mold from air conditioner coils? Allowing the mold to continue spreading and growing poses a health risk. If there is mold on the air conditioner coils, mold spores can easily spread through the ducts in your ventilation system.

Mold spores can cause a variety of health complications. Exposure to mold may experience an inflammatory response to the mold, especially if you already suffer from asthma, allergies, or a weakened immune system.

You may experience coughing, throat irritation, nasal congestion, and sneezing. Respiratory problems are also common. The mold spores may also exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms.

Allowing the mold to remain on the coils also poses a danger to your air conditioning system. The moist mold can increase the corrosion of the copper coils, eventually resulting in a leak. Luckily, you can avoid these dangers by using the following steps to clean mold from the air conditioner coils.

How To Clean Mold From Air Conditioner Coils

Tools and Equipment for Cleaning the Coils

Before you can start cleaning mold and other debris from the air conditioner coils, you need to ensure that you have the right tools and equipment. Depending on the type of AC unit, you may need a screwdriver to remove access panels, along with these items:

  • Disinfectant cleaning spray
  • Rags
  • Respirator mask
  • Trash bags
  • Soft bristle brush

You may also need a wet/dry vac to vacuum any standing water and other debris before cleaning the coils.

There are different types of cleaning sprays available that are designed specifically for cleaning mold and bacteria from metal parts. The best cleaners are labelled for HVAC use and can help kill mold, mildew, and bacteria.

The cleaners are typically available as a liquid or a foam. The liquid cleaners will require you to rinse the parts clean afterward using a wet rag. The foam cleaners do not require you to rinse. However, you will need to wipe the foam clean after allowing it to set.

When cleaning the coils, you should also consider replacing the AC filter. If mold is present on the coils, there are likely mold spores in the filter.

Locate the Coils and Remove Access Panels

After gathering the necessary tools and equipment, you should be ready to clean the mold from the coils. First, turn off the air conditioner and disconnect the power.

If your central air conditioning system includes an outdoor condenser unit, you may want to clean the area surrounding the unit first. Sweep away any debris, such as fallen leaves and twigs. You should also look for standing water, excess moisture, and any signs of a refrigerant leak.

With the outdoor unit, there should be a large grill or panel that provides access to the condenser coil. The unit may include screws or fasteners to secure the grill. Remove the grill slowly, as it may be attached to the fan that is used to cool the condenser coil. If the fan is attached, you may need to disconnect the wires to set it aside and gain access to the coils.

To clean the indoor unit, locate the access panel. As with the outdoor unit, it may be held in place with screws or fasteners. However, you should not need to disconnect a fan to reach the evaporator coils.

Removing Mold from Coils Using Cleaning Products

You can now clean the coils. However, make sure that you put on a mask to protect yourself from the floating mold spores that you may disrupt during the cleaning.

Whether you are using a foam cleaner or a liquid spray cleaner, follow the instructions on the label to apply the cleaner to the coils. With the spray foam, you typically spray the foam on the coils and allow it to set for 15 to 60 minutes.

After allowing the foam to set, wipe it off using a clean rag. You can continue to apply the foam cleaner until the coils are completely clean.

When using a liquid cleaner, you may need to pour the liquid on a rag and then wipe the coils clean by hand. After cleaning the coils, use a damp rag to remove any residue from the cleaning product.

While cleaning the coils, you should also clean the area around the coils, including the valves, piping, and other metal components. Do not attempt to clean any areas that feature exposed wiring or circuitry.

When cleaning the coils, use caution around the coil fins. These fins help direct air toward the coils and are easily bent. If you do bend the coil fins, you can attempt to bend them back into position. However, this can be tricky to accomplish. Another option is to use a coil fin comb to help reposition the fins.

The cleaning products that you use may not entirely remove the mold and debris from the coils. You can use a soft bristle brush to attempt to remove this debris. However, do not apply too much pressure when scrubbing to avoid cracking a weakened coil.

After you finish cleaning the coils and any other parts that require cleaning, allow everything to dry completely. Moisture promotes mold growth and may also increase the risk of damage to the air conditioner.

When you are done cleaning, remember to replace the filter. The filter should contain arrows to let you know which direction it should face.

What Causes Mold Growth on Air Conditioner Coils?

Mold growth is typically the result of standing water or excess moisture and high humidity levels. When an air conditioning system is working properly, it should help control humidity levels inside the home. However, you have no control over the humidity outdoors.

The outdoor condenser unit is prone to mold growth, as it is located outdoors where it may be exposed to rain and snow. Regularly cleaning may help prevent the spread of mold spores and the accumulation of mold on the condenser coils.

The indoor unit of your air conditioning system may also develop mold growth. This is typically caused by the condensation from moisture generated during the cooling process.

When the warm air in your home is pulled into the air conditioning system, it travels over the evaporator coils. The cold refrigerant cools the air and reduces its water content. The water vapors condense and drip over the evaporator coils into a drip pan or drain line.

If the drip pan or drain line is not draining properly, you may end up with standing water. This standing water can increase the spread of mold spores.

Even when the condensation is properly drained, the constant dripping on the coils may eventually lead to mold growth, especially if mold spores are already traveling through your air ducts.

Excess moisture in your home can also promote mold growth that may spread to your AC system and other household appliances. Leaks in your roofing or basement may increase the risk of this mold growth.

How to Protect Your Air Conditioner from Mold Growth

Cleaning the mold from your air conditioner coils is only a temporary fix for getting rid of the mold. Without addressing the reason behind the mold growth, you will likely need to clean mold from the coils again in the future.

The best way to protect your air conditioner from mold growth is to control the humidity levels in your home. When the AC system is working properly, the air conditioning process should help eliminate moisture from the air. Your air conditioning may also be equipped with a dehumidifier mode.

Along with using your AC unit to remove moisture, you should deal with any leaks in your home. A small leak in the roof or in your basement can result in standing water or excess moisture that may lead to mold growth.

You can also help prevent mold from spreading on the air conditioner coils by using a mold inhibitor product. These products typically come in a spray can and are meant to be applied after you finish cleaning the coils.

Air Conditioner Coils Need Regular Cleaning

Along with cleaning the coils to remove mold, you should regularly clean the coils to help remove dirt and debris. Regular cleaning also allows you to inspect the coils for cracks and signs of leaks.

The process for regular cleaning is mostly the same as cleaning the mold from the coils. You will need to turn off the air conditioner and remove the access panels. You can still use a foam cleaner or any other cleaning product that is designed for HVAC use.

In the end, cleaning mold and other debris from air conditioner coils and other components is not very difficult. This simple maintenance task may even help prevent leaks and other damage that can result in a loss of refrigerant.

If you are not comfortable performing these steps on your own, you should still occasionally inspect the coils for signs of mold growth and schedule an annual servicing. An experienced HVAC technician can clean the coils while also inspecting your AC system for any other issues.