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Eco-friendly Coil Washing

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As contractors, we get into a pattern of how we perform our service calls and installations. Rarely do we stop and think about some of the products we use to conduct our jobs correctly. Many contractors are bought in on the products they use to flush copper lines, filtration, and wash coils, for example. However, we can do our part with awareness and education to help preserve our precious earth and leave the next generation with an environment better than we found it.

Washing condenser coils and evaporator coils are a fundamental function of what we do as contractors. As part of their regular operation, HVAC systems can accumulate considerable amounts of dirt, debris, allergens, and other particulates over some time. I am suggesting helping with this endeavor to change your vocabulary when speaking to your customers. You will notice that the language in this article is using washing coils and not cleaning coils. The reason for this is because your clients may have a different definition of clean. Let’s be honest; some coils are so dirty and stained they will never look or be clean again. By making this slight vernacular change, it can take down some of those customer objections and complaints.

The HVAC system operation often involves moisture, supporting bacterial and fungal microorganisms’ growth and colonization. These microorganisms can accumulate or amplify throughout the HVAC system over time, depending on various factors, including quality and location of air filters and other peripherals, maintenance schedules, and the indoor/outdoor environmental conditions.

HVAC equipment and systems containing excessive debris, whether inert particles or microorganisms have been shown to use more energy, distribute poorly conditioned air, and accelerate system components’ degradation. According to the EPA, “Accumulated debris can restrict the airflow in your air ducts, making your system work harder to heat and cool your home.”

Even though we want to use resources to do a thorough job when washing HVAC systems, we also want to reduce harm to the environment. One-way HVAC contractors can do this is to start using a coil washer that is not so harsh on the equipment, technicians, and the environment.

Grease or heavy accumulations will require coil washing chemicals. The wrong chemical washer can attack the condenser and do more harm than good. Numerous coil washing chemicals are sold highly concentrated and must be diluted with water before using them on HVAC equipment coils. Care should be taken to wash the coils altogether so that no washing chemicals stay on the coil.

It is imperative always to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when washing coils. With that being said, look at the option for an eco-friendly coil washer. Why would you want to use an eco-friendly coil washer? Let’s talk features and benefits of using an eco-friendly coil washer.


  • Environmentally Friendly
  • Readily Biodegradable (meaning it can biodegrade wholly and quickly)
  • Many are universal washers
  • Rubber and metal roof safe
  • Non-toxic and residue-free


  • Most of the washers meet the EPA “Designed for Environment Safer Alternatives” standards
  • Some will wash as effectively as conventional coil washers without the need for acids or alkalis
  • These washers can be used on both indoor and outdoor coils, including drain pans
  • Some can deodorize as it washes
  • Non-corrosive and will not damage aluminum, metals, rubber, or polymeric roofing
  • Many do not leave any residue

Another factor that should be considered when deciding to wash an evaporator coil is the risks that can result from removing the coil. We’ve all heard the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” More times than not, technicians and installers remove existing evaporator coils for washing. It was identified (hindsight being so clear) that when evaporator coils are restricted past the point of surface debris (hair, lint, etc.) that removing and washing the coil has no return on investment. If washed- inevitably, the OEM’s plastic primary pan will crack, the TXV will malfunction, the unit will rattle, the system will experience contamination and eventual system failure. Industry data support you will never clean the inside surface of the coils. Always quote the correct repair of any restricted coil to include a new coil and pan.

These features and benefits are a few examples of what eco-friendly coil washers offer versus traditional, more harsh coil washers. Always verify the features and benefits of the coil washer product as each manufacturer may be different. If you are looking to do your part in helping the environment with an eco-friendly coil washer, be sure to check if the product you decided to use has the EPA’s Safer Choice label. Safer Choice helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find products that perform and contain safer ingredients for human health and the environment.

As contractors, we are swamped. During the busy season, it feels like there are not enough hours in the day to meet the client’s demands. However, we can make time to slow down to ensure we are leaving a small carbon footprint. Find other ways to help by researching recycling centers and services, reuse materials such as copper pieces, recycling mercury bulb thermostats, and ensuring every employee handling refrigerant is clear on reclaiming and recovering refrigerant properly. Be smart in the products you choose to use in your business. By making these small changes, you are doing your part to help save our resources and our only earth.

Matt Akins
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Posted In: Technical Tips

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