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March 28, 2024

Understanding and Addressing Dirty Evaporator Coils in Your Home HVAC System

Maintaining an efficient HVAC system is critical for the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. A common issue that undermines system performance is the presence of dirty evaporator coils. This article aims to provide homeowners with an in-depth understanding of dirty evaporator coils, including their causes, symptoms, and both DIY and professional solutions. By comprehensively addressing this issue, homeowners can ensure their HVAC system operates efficiently, maintaining indoor air quality and minimizing energy costs.

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What Are Evaporator Coils?

Evaporator coils are a central component of your home’s air conditioning system. Located inside the air handler or attached to the furnace, these coils are responsible for absorbing heat from indoor air. As warm air passes over the cold coils, the refrigerant inside the coils absorbs the heat, cooling and dehumidifying the air before it is circulated back into the living spaces. This process is essential for maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures during warmer months.

Causes of Dirty Evaporator Coils

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Understanding the causes of dirty evaporator coils is the first step towards prevention. Common causes include:

  • Dust and Debris Accumulation: The primary cause of dirty coils is the buildup of dust, pet hair, and other airborne particles. These can bypass or accumulate due to inadequate air filtration or leaks in the ductwork.
  • Mold and Mildew Growth: High humidity levels can lead to the growth of mold and mildew on the coils, impacting air quality and system efficiency.
  • Reduced Airflow: Obstructions to airflow, such as a dirty air filter or blocked ducts, can exacerbate dirt accumulation on the coils.
  • Lack of Maintenance: Neglecting regular HVAC maintenance allows for unchecked accumulation of contaminants on the evaporator coils.

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Symptoms of Dirty Evaporator Coils

Identifying dirty evaporator coils early can prevent more significant issues. Symptoms include:

  • Inefficient Cooling: Diminished cooling performance may indicate dirt buildup on the coils.
  • Increased Energy Bills: An HVAC system working harder to cool your home can lead to higher energy usage.
  • Ice Formation: Dirt on the coils can restrict airflow and refrigerant absorption, leading to freezing.
  • Unpleasant Odors: The presence of mold or mildew on the coils can cause musty smells.

heating and AC, plumbing & electric

DIY Maintenance and Fixes

Some preventative measures and minor fixes can be managed by homeowners:

  • Air Filter Replacement: Regularly changing air filters every 30-90 days can prevent dust and debris from reaching the evaporator coils.
  • Duct Maintenance: Ensuring that ducts are sealed and insulated, and considering professional duct cleaning for significant buildup or mold, can improve air quality and system efficiency.
  • Evaporator Coil Inspection: Homeowners may visually inspect the coils for dirt or ice buildup. However, cleaning or repairing the coils should be left to professionals due to the potential for damage or injury.

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When to Call a Professional

For issues beyond basic maintenance, professional services are recommended:

  • Professional Cleaning: HVAC technicians can clean the evaporator coils with specialized equipment and solutions, ensuring no damage to the system.
  • System Repair and Maintenance: Any damage or significant issues with the evaporator coils should be addressed by a professional to ensure proper repair and functionality.
  • Scheduled Maintenance: Regular professional maintenance can prevent dirt buildup on the coils, extending the system’s lifespan and improving efficiency.


Dirty evaporator coils can significantly affect your HVAC system’s performance, air quality, and energy costs. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and taking appropriate actions, homeowners can maintain an efficient and effective HVAC system. For tasks beyond DIY capabilities, or to ensure your system receives the best care, consider professional services from Paschal Air, Plumbing & Electric. Our expertise and services can help keep your HVAC system in optimal condition, ensuring your home remains comfortable and energy-efficient.

This comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing dirty evaporator coils provides a foundation for homeowners to effectively manage their HVAC system’s health. For further information on maintenance practices, system efficiency tips, or to schedule a service, Paschal Air, Plumbing & Electric remains at your service, ensuring your home’s HVAC system operates smoothly and efficiently.