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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Tracy, California

    It has been ages since I've posted here.
    I'm responsible for maintenance at 2 bar/restaurants
    of which I'm part owner. I'm sitting here waiting
    for a back bar refer to equalize after replacing
    a valve stem & re-brazing a broken suction line
    so I thought I'd return for some advice on another idea.

    Condensor coil cleaning is an on-going battle,
    especially in the kitchens where a coating of grease
    seems to have a particular affection for condensor coils.

    I've used any number of commercial grease cutters /
    coil cleaners to try and clean them in the past;
    with varying results.

    Has anyone tried one of those hand held steam cleaners
    for this purpose ? I'm thinking of the home models
    they advertise in infomercials or something similar.

    I'm wondering if the steam would do a better job of
    melting the grease & cleaning the coils than the
    chemicals do, not to mention making for easier cleanup.
    The 200+ deg F steam shouldn't hurt anything so long
    as the unit is off.

    Has anyone tried this or does anyone see
    any issues ?

    -brad a.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    I've never tried it, but it's a thought.

    I use "Blast-A-Coil" from Johnstone on all my small commercial condensers. It's non-conductive, so you can use it on running motors, etc. The only problem is that it stinks high heaven. If you're part owner, do it before the place opens, or even better yet, right after you close. It works like a champ though.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    East Stroudsburg, PA
    I would exercise extreme caution, mainly because my PT for R12 only goes to 188 degrees, which is 365 psi. Might not be bad for 12, (or it's alternatives) but could very well start making things with 22 or 502 go pop-hiss.

    Steam at 212 degrees might be too much for a copper coil...

    I personally use a diluted alkaline cleaner and as much pressure as I can on those, with a large wet/dry vac (Floor nozzle...) on and standing right near the coil. This works very well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    You are asking for trouble because the pressure is gonna get reaaly high pop hiss is a reality
    “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own." Scott Adams

    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
    Albert Einstein

  5. #5
    There are some cheap cans of Oven Cleaner which I have had success with.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2001


    I run into the same problem your having all the time.
    I have eight resturants that I'm a maint. tech for. I have from 4 to 5 reach-in freezers and coolers in each store.
    They are mostly Hobart and Traulsons. The reach-ins in the grill kitchens are the worst. Like you said the grease just coats the condenser coils. (They all have copeland units that sit on top). I was thinking the same thing you
    were, how about one of those little steamers. About 6 months ago, I was watching one of those late night info-mercials on tv. They had a Scunci steamer with attachments for about $65.00 , so I ordered one. When I got it, i took it to the store and was going to clean me some coils! What a big dissappointment! It didn't work worth a dam. I could hold my finger a couple of inches away from the tip. The main problem was no pressure. I sent it back for a refund.
    Had to eat the shipping charge, but i would of never used it anywhere. Now I use a can of calclean. I soak the coil and let foam up. I then wipe it off with a rag. I sray it agin. I then rinse it with hot water from a portable 32 0z.
    hand pressure sprayer (pump-it up). It seems to work ok. The only problem is all the water that runs down the sides of the unit. I have to use half a roll of hand towels to mop everything up. What a pain in the a**. It would be great if the manufactures would design these reach-ins where the condensing units would sit in a shallow pan with a drain tube. That would make things alot easier. If there is a better way i would love to know about it! Regards!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Guayaquil EC
    The foaming alkaline coil cleaners (like CalClean) are the best chemical to use for these greasy condensers. I won't clean them in-place though because of all the mess and more importantly the liability of somehow getting this highly caustic stuff on food that is then served to the public.

    I simply schedule a shutdown of the box, recover, disconnect and remove the condenser coil to an area where I can properly clean and rinse it. It takes a couple of hours or so, but when you're done, it's done right, the coil is spotless and so is the cooler.

    I avoid using these easy remedies like the spray coil cleaners and other stuff like oven cleaner and such. I've seen a perfectly good fins on a condenser coil turn to powder in less than a year after it was "cleaned".

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Tracy, California

    Thanks !

    Hi again-

    Thanks Bogart219 !
    I didn't think it was an original idea.
    Too bad it doesn't work.
    At least I'll save the time & trouble of trying it.

    I've used any number of Johnstone cleaners
    as well as the heavy duty degreaser we stock
    in the kitchens & the Castrol Purple stuff.
    Hadn't thought of using a pressure sprayer to rinse.
    For mop up, I just grab a bunch of dirty kitchen towels
    from the laundry bag and arrange them at the
    bottom of the condensor to catch the run off.
    Periodically I'll wring them into a bucket.

    Another trick I use is to grab some do-it-yourself
    screen kits from Home Depot and make little screens
    to fit in front of each condensor. I then attach
    them with velcro. These catch much of the dust
    & grease that would normally stick to the condensors.
    To clean, you then just take them off and wash off
    in the sink. Unfortunately, there are some condensors
    this isn't practicle for and some grease does still
    get through.

    Thanks for sharing !
    -brad a.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Haven't tried it but a restaurant owner I do work for saturates those kinds of coils with Dawn overnight. Rinses it the next morning (lots of suds)and turns the unit back on. Not very practible for a service guy but since you own the place, have a try.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    The best way I know to handle the problem is to eliminate it. Next time buy remote refrigeration units. In the meantime get some 1" thick poly pads tear them in 1/2, now it's a 1/2" thick poly pad. Cut it to size and put it on your condenser. Change them weekly.

    This will push your head up slightly, but not as bad as the grease does. Sure is a lot easier than cleaning. You know what they say, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.
    A Diamond is just a piece of coal, that made good under pressure!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Memphis TN USA
    I have a little 110V water heater for rinse water. It helps alot. It runs about 150F. It puts out just a little more water than a pump-up sprayer. My shop vac can handle that much water.
    If the superheat ain't right it ain't charged right.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    OK… here is what we do.

    UNPLUG THE BOX. I take the upright coolers and freezers and jack up the front of the box with a spare scissor jack from my truck to tilt the box about 10 degrees to the rear. We use Foam N Clean diluted 1 part cleaner to 3 parts warm water in a 2 gallon sprayer. Spray generously and let sit for 5 minutes as the foaming action pushes out the dirt in-between the coil fins and cuts the grease. If you tilt the unit to the rear all of the soap and water drains to the rear. This keeps from the alkaline from staining the sides or front and the dirty water from entering the box.

    I use a warm water hose to rinse the coil thoroughly to remove any alkaline residue completely. Do not rinse the fan motors or you will be replacing them next week. Use a wide spray on your hose bib, nothing hard or direct. All you need is a good soaking action. On heavy laden grease you may have to clean twice. Let dry for a few minutes as you do another box. You can let the water flow to a floor drain or get it up using your best practice.

    Using a roll of ¼” black filter foam material (from Johnstone) cut a pad to fit the coil without it overlapping anywhere. If it overlaps you will have air bypass. Attach the filter pad to the coil using jumbo paper clips on all four corners by pushing them through the pad and sliding them over the fins. (Velcro will not hold as well) Leave the paper clips just short of all the way in so they may be removed easily.

    If these steps are followed you just replace the filter pad every two months. I really mean it, two months or else! I have had success with this procedure for years on nasty fry freezers and cooler stations. Yes, the filter pad does catch most all of the smokey grease build up and we don’t have to wash the coils but every couple of years. Great for bi-monthly PM projects or the customer can add it to his duties if he doesn’t want to pay a professional.

    Caution… on undersized 1/8 to 1/5 hp boxes with restricted air flow cabinets especially with 134a DO NOT DO IT! Your head pressure will go crazy… Use only with good air flow and circulation. We do not use the fiberglass pads. They are too loosely meshed and by pass dirty air much more so than a cellular foam pad.

    Email me if you want to see pictures.

    [Edited by lusker on 06-02-2004 at 03:56 PM]

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Caldwell, ID
    In the ACHR news they had an article about a guy who had started a business steam cleaning PTACs in hotels and motels. THose things get nasty.

    I would guess he did them while charged. The article mentioned that he had some special steam cleaner machine made for him, but he had to have experimented with the concept with a standard machine first.

    Have fun.


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