Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    64
    I had a new Trane XV80/XL14i system installed exactly three years ago.

    The installer went out of business but luckily I have not had any problems. I clean the air filters (EAC panels) regularly but otherwise haven't done any maintenance.

    I'm ready to fire up the A/C for the first time this year. Is it necessary to get a professional to clean and check the system, or can I just clean the condenser and evaporator myself?

    If I can do it myself, where would I find coil cleaner? I have not had any luck in the local hardware stores...

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    483
    Cleaning the coils is only part of the maintenance. Coil cleaner can be nasty stuff, so it's not sold in hardware stores. I recommend you call a pro in to do the maintenance on your a/c. They will be able to check the charge as well as clean the coils properly if they are dirty. To find a good service company is like finging gold, once you find one hang on to them and give them all your HVAC bussiness. You should be able to find a good service company by asking friends and neighbors who they use. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    64
    I definitely would like to find a reputable HVAC contractor. Unfortunately, those I have called have given me a cold reception since they did not do the install. They want upwards of $500 just to come out and look at the system.

    My system is 3 years old and the A/C runs only 4 months per year, and I have been diligent in cleaning the filters, so I'm hopeful that the evaporator coils are relatively clean. I did open the outside unit and the fins were not dirty at all (I gave them a quick rinse from the inside and vaccuumed out the debris).

    The A/C is on and nice and cold, so I think the charge is OK. Nevertheless, I will re-engage my search for a good honest contractor.

    Thanks for your reply...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    2,635
    Coil cleaner is not generally sold in retail stores because they wouldn't do enough volume to justify stocking it. Some very popular coil cleaners are not caustic at all. The rest will eat your face off (figuratively), but so will oven cleaner. The last I checked the grocery store had an abundant supply of oven cleaner.

    If your condenser is surrounded by rock, thick grass or concrete then it's probably fine. Many condensers in these parts go ten years or more and never get cleaned without a problem. I'm not promoting that as good. It's just a fact. If your unit is surrounded by a dust bowl or cottonwood trees then that's a different story.

    Since you've kept up on the filters, the odds of the evaporator coil being dirty are slim to none.

    Pick your contractor well. A good contractor will check the charge by the superheat or subcooling methods and truly fine tune. Most of them just stick their gauges on and ballpark it. And an awful lot of them add a pound or two for the hell of it. People erroneously think you need new Freon now and then, so why not? It pads the bill and makes you think they did something useful.

    In any event, get the wrong contractor and he'll change nothing if you're lucky and make things worse if you're not. Get the right one and he'll probably change nothing of importance and might make it better if you're lucky. Guess what... There are more bad contractors than good. There’s some good information on my site that might help you distinguish between good and bad.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    64
    This is precisely my fear: my system has been working great, and I'll find a dishonest and/or incompetent contractor who will mess it up.

    I'll ask around to see if my neighbors have any good contractor relationships.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    322
    My Home Depot sells a foaming condenser coil, but it's kind of expensive and looks like it would take about 3 cans to do any good. They also sell an evaporator coil cleaner, in a bottle with a picture of a condenser. Go figure. I went to an appliance parts store and found some real condenser coil cleaner, in a one-gallon jug, but it contained sodium hydroxide, i.e. lye.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    483
    Originally posted by Irascible
    Coil cleaner is not generally sold in retail stores because they wouldn't do enough volume to justify stocking it. Some very popular coil cleaners are not caustic at all. The rest will eat your face off (figuratively), but so will oven cleaner. The last I checked the grocery store had an abundant supply of oven cleaner.

    If your condenser is surrounded by rock, thick grass or concrete then it's probably fine. Many condensers in these parts go ten years or more and never get cleaned without a problem. I'm not promoting that as good. It's just a fact. If your unit is surrounded by a dust bowl or cottonwood trees then that's a different story.

    Since you've kept up on the filters, the odds of the evaporator coil being dirty are slim to none.

    Pick your contractor well. A good contractor will check the charge by the superheat or subcooling methods and truly fine tune. Most of them just stick their gauges on and ballpark it. And an awful lot of them add a pound or two for the hell of it. People erroneously think you need new Freon now and then, so why not? It pads the bill and makes you think they did something useful.

    In any event, get the wrong contractor and he'll change nothing if you're lucky and make things worse if you're not. Get the right one and he'll probably change nothing of importance and might make it better if you're lucky. Guess what... There are more bad contractors than good. There’s some good information on my site that might help you distinguish between good and bad.
    You do make a good point. I have used simple green before with pretty good results. I know there are coil cleaners out there that are not toxic, but they just don't seem to work well. It seem the more toxic something is the better it works

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    2,635
    Indeed. I LOVE Calgon's NuBrite. I've even used it on evaporator coils. The liability, lawyers and financial ruin be damned!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Houston Tx
    Posts
    344
    Why not just flush it really good with water using a sprayer. be careful not to damage the fins.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,757
    If you've been doing the cells on a 30 to 60 day period, then at worst a little simple green will take care of the indoor coil.

    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    64
    What exactly is "simple green"? Is it the Calgon NuBrite?

    The installers sealed the air handler pretty good, so I would have to remove this clear rubbery insulation they applied and then remove a bunch of screws.

    I think I'll leave it to the professionals

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Northern Virginia, Fairfax County
    Posts
    641
    Originally posted by daverubin
    What exactly is "simple green"? Is it the Calgon NuBrite?

    Simple Green is a cleaning product. Look for it on the shelves with all the cleaning materials at Home Depot, Lowes. By the way, it is a pretty green in color in a clear plastic bottle.

    Al

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