“Kalvin Condenser, do you promise to reject heat and provide years of reliable service for the Joneses … in sickness and in health, in heat and in cottonwood, in dogs and in lawnmowers, ‘til death do you part?”

“I do.”

“Is there any man, woman, or machine here today who objects to this marriage?”

“Kalvin,” roared the 300-lb woman sitting in the front row. “How can you make such a ridiculous promise? How can you be sure the Joneses will maintain you and keep your coils clean? Oh my baby, how can I let this happen?”

“Mother dearest, relax. As part of our prenuptial contract, the Joneses and I have included an annual service agreement with Kent Mechanical to keep me in good shape.”

In order for Kent Mechanical to keep Kalvin’s coils clean, they will have to consider the following.


Always carry MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for any chemical or soap used. Be cautious of chemical vapors. In addition, use:

  • A full-shield face mask;

  • Long-sleeved garments;

  • Gloves rated for the cleaning solution used; and

  • Lockout, tagout procedures on the equipment prior to cleaning.


  • Pressure washer — Delivers x amount of gallons per minute of water. Can be combined with chemical or soap injection;

  • Garden hose and nozzle;

  • Pump sprayer — Uses a mix of chemicals and water to deliver a low-pressure spray of solution;

  • Chemical injector — Applies a cleaning solution under garden hose pressure;

  • Fin comb — Used to straighten out condenser coil fins.

    In order to prolong the life of your cleaning equipment, thoroughly rinse it out with water after each use.


  • Acid based — Will etch and brighten aluminum. A foaming action will lift dirt from the coil surface. Use extreme caution when handling; hydrofluoric acid is a hazardous material. Use outdoors only.

  • Alkaline based — Safer to use than acid, it will also etch the metal and foam but may not brighten as well. Slightly more effective on breaking down grease and slime.

  • Detergent based — Soap is the primary cleaning agent. Some use a foaming solution.

  • Solvent based — Dries quickly and requires minimum rinsing.

  • Coil protectant — Helps to prevent dirt and living organisms from adhering to the coil surface. Also allows for easier cleaning in the future.


  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. For best results, use the recommended mix ratios of water and chemicals.

  • Rinse the coils thoroughly and spray in the opposite direction of the condenser airflow.

  • When spraying and rinsing, pay close attention to nearby objects such as cars, flowers, and house siding.

  • Clean the condenser bottom and make sure weep holes are clear.

  • Turn the equipment back on before leaving.

    Over the years, condenser coils become impacted with dirt, either due to improper cleaning techniques or not being cleaned at all. It is wise to begin cleaning condenser coils in the equipment’s first year of operation using proper procedures. This will prolong equipment life and help to reduce utility expenditures.

    Rothacker is a director of www.area51HVAC.com (website). For questions or comments on the Tech Page, contact Rothacker at ewizaard@hotmail.com (e-mail).

    Publication date: 06/17/2002