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Top 10 Air Conditioner Coil Questions Answered by Big Bear AC Professionals

Bear Valley Plumbing & Heating


What is a Coil in an Air Conditioner in Big Bear, California?

The coil in an air conditioner plays a crucial role in its functioning. Specifically, we will focus on the evaporator coil, which is responsible for absorbing heat from the air inside your house.

Located inside the air handler or attached to the furnace, the evaporator coil is a vital component of the cooling process.

How Does the Evaporator Coil Work in an Air Conditioner?

The evaporator coil plays a crucial role in the cooling process of an air conditioner. It works by circulating refrigerant through a series of coils, absorbing heat from the indoor air. When the warm air from your home passes over the cold evaporator coil, the refrigerant inside the coil evaporates, absorbing the heat from the air. This cooled air is then circulated back into your home while the heat absorbed by the refrigerant is carried outside.

Differentiating between the Evaporator Coil and Condenser Coil

To better understand the evaporator coil, it’s essential to grasp the difference between the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. While the evaporator coil absorbs heat from indoor air, the condenser coil releases that heat into the outdoor air. The evaporator coil takes the heat energy extracted from your home, compresses it into hot refrigerant vapor, and rapidly releases it when the refrigerant circulates into the coil, condensing it into a liquid state.

Are There Different Types of Evaporator Coils?

Yes, there are different types of evaporator coils available, designed to accommodate various HVAC systems and cooling needs. One common type is the “A-coil,” named for its shape resembling the letter “A.” A-coils are often used in split-system air conditioners and heat pumps. Another type is the “Slab” or “Cased” coil, which is typically used in horizontal or vertical installations. It’s important to choose the right type of coil that is compatible with your specific HVAC system.


What is the Lifespan of an Air Conditioning Coil in Big Bear?

On average, an evaporator coil in a commercial HVAC unit can last between 10 to 15 years. However, it’s crucial to note that this estimate can vary significantly. Regular maintenance and proper usage can extend the lifespan of the coil even further.

How Can I Maximize the Lifespan of My Evaporator Coil?

To maximize the lifespan of your evaporator coil, regular maintenance is key. Here are a few tips:

  • Schedule annual maintenance visits with a qualified HVAC technician to inspect and clean the coil.
  • Keep the area around the coil clean and free from dust or debris.
  • Change air filters regularly to ensure proper airflow and prevent strain on the coil.
  • Maintain balanced humidity levels in your home to avoid excessive condensation on the coil.
  • Avoid blocking or obstructing the airflow around the air handler or furnace where the coil is located.

By following these maintenance practices, you can help extend the lifespan of your evaporator coil and keep your air conditioning system running efficiently.

What Factors Can Affect the Lifespan of an Evaporator Coil in Big Bear?

While the average lifespan of an evaporator coil is around 10 to 15 years, several factors can influence its longevity. One important factor is regular maintenance. Routine maintenance, such as cleaning or replacing air filters and ensuring proper airflow, can help prevent strain on the coil and prolong its lifespan. Additionally, environmental factors like air quality, humidity levels, and the frequency of system usage can also impact the coil’s lifespan.

​​Is it Possible to Prevent Evaporator Coil Damage?

While it’s not possible to completely prevent evaporator coil damage, there are measures you can take to minimize the risk. One effective step is investing in a high-quality air filter and regularly replacing it. Air filters help trap dust, debris, and airborne particles that can accumulate on the coil and impede its performance. Additionally, scheduling routine maintenance with a professional HVAC technician can help identify and address any potential issues before they cause significant damage to the coil.


Identifying a Faulty AC Coil in Big Bear

Signs of a Failing AC Coil

Recognizing the signs of a damaged evaporator coil is important. When an AC coil goes bad, certain symptoms become evident. If warm air is coming out of your vents, regardless of the temperature set on your thermostat, a broken evaporator coil may be to blame. Additionally, if your air conditioner frequently starts and stops without effectively cooling your home, it could be a sign of a faulty coil.

Other signs include the air conditioner failing to turn on, refrigerant leaks near the indoor cooling system components, or unusual noises emanating from the cooling system, such as banging or hissing.

Causes of AC Coil Failure

Several factors can lead to the burnout of an AC coil. Overheating due to high ambient temperatures, physical obstructions preventing proper closure of the contactor, and Undervoltage causing the insufficient force to keep the contactor armature sealed are some common causes.


Cost Considerations for AC Coil Replacement in Big Bear

When it comes to costs, the evaporator coil replacement is typically more affordable compared to other parts of the air conditioning unit. While individual ignition coils can range from $35 to over $300 depending on the vehicle, labor costs for replacement usually stay below $100. However, the compressor is one of the most expensive parts to replace. As the heart of the system, the compressor circulates the refrigerant, responsible for cooling the air in your home.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Evaporator Coil Replacement

Replacing the evaporator coil in an air conditioner can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,000. The coil itself ranges from $180 to $1,600, with professional installation adding an additional $400 to $1,000. Several factors influence the total cost, including the brand of the air conditioner and its high-end or low-end status.

Considering Complete Unit Replacement

In certain situations, it may be more cost-effective to replace the entire AC unit rather than just the evaporator coil. Here are some scenarios where replacing the entire unit is recommended:

  • AC Unit Age: If your AC unit is 8 years old or older, replacing only the evaporator coil may not be worth the investment. The efficiency of an AC unit is at its peak for the first 10 to 12 years of its lifespan. Attempting to replace the coil in an older unit can strain the system, leading to decreased efficiency and further issues.
  • Obsolete Evaporator Coil: All AC units have a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating that determines their efficiency. If you have an older unit with a lower SEER rating and need to replace the evaporator coil, finding a replacement coil with a matching rating may be difficult or impossible. Mismatched SEER ratings can significantly impact the overall performance of your system.
  • R-22 Refrigerant: AC units that use R-22 refrigerant pose a challenge due to the environmental harm caused by this type of refrigerant. Since R-22 production has been phased out globally, it is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to acquire. In such cases, replacing the entire unit with one that uses the more environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant is the best option.

Can I Clean or Repair a Damaged Evaporator Coil?

Cleaning or repairing a damaged evaporator coil is a task best left to professionals. The coil is a delicate component that requires specialized tools and expertise to handle properly. Attempting to clean or repair it without the necessary knowledge and equipment may cause further damage or even lead to personal injury. It’s always recommended to rely on trained HVAC technicians to perform any maintenance or repair work on your evaporator coil.


Protecting the Evaporator Coil from Damage

Rather than waiting for the damage to occur, it’s wiser to take preventive measures to protect the evaporator coil. Regular maintenance performed by experts and heeding their advice can go a long way in ensuring the coil’s longevity. Attempting repairs on your own is not recommended, as it can potentially cause more harm than good.


Should I Consider Upgrading to a Higher SEER-rated AC Unit in Big Bear?

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a measure of an air conditioner’s efficiency. Higher SEER ratings indicate greater energy efficiency. If you have an older AC unit with a low SEER rating, upgrading to a higher SEER-rated unit can provide several benefits. It can improve energy efficiency, reduce utility bills, and enhance overall cooling performance. However, upgrading to a higher SEER-rated unit involves a significant upfront cost, so it’s important to weigh the potential energy savings against the initial investment.


In Conclusion

Understanding the significance of the evaporator coil in your AC unit is essential for making informed decisions. Factors such as the age of your AC, SEER rating, and refrigerant type should be considered when deciding whether to replace the evaporator coil or the entire unit.

If you’re unsure, always seek professional assistance. Remember, your AC is a valuable piece of machinery, so it’s best to avoid tinkering with it. Investing in regular maintenance can save you from costly repairs down the line. If you need expert advice, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with Bear Valley Plumbing in Big Bear, California. Our professionals can provide you with the best options for your specific situation.

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