The evaporator and condenser coils on your RV air conditioner need to be cleaned from time to time. They are located within the outside portion of the air conditioner unit on the roof of your RV.
You’ll find the evaporator coils at the front under the shroud, located within a housing made of sheet metal. You should be able to see the condenser coils as soon as you remove the shroud- and in some cases, before- depending on the model. Before you get started cleaning your RV air conditioner coils, you’ll need to gather a screwdriver, shop vac, soap/water in a spray bottle, and a soft brush.
Cleaning your RV air conditioner coils isn’t that difficult, though it is going to take you some time. Start by turning off the unit. Then, remove the covers, vacuum the coils, clean the coils, repeat cleaning process as needed, inspect coils, and finally, dry and put the unit back together.
In this article, we’ll explain how to do each of these steps.
Steps to Clean RV Air Conditioner Coils
There are seven steps for cleaning your RV air conditioner coils. They are as follows:
Turn Off Power to the Unit
The very first thing you must do before you start cleaning your air conditioner coils is to make sure the power to the unit is disconnected. This can be done by unplugging your RV or turning off the generator and disconnecting the batteries.
If you prefer, you could pull the fuse and turn off the breaker. The main thing is to ensure that you have no power (12V or 110V) going to the air conditioner when you are getting ready to work on it.
Now that the power is disconnected, climb on top of the roof and remove the cover to your unit. You should see a couple of screws that are holding it in place. Once you remove them, choose a secure location to keep them and remove the cover.
Keep in mind that bees/wasps like to make their home under the cover. Therefore, you must take precaution when removing it- especially if you notice any buzzing around.
Once you remove the cover, you’ll see the condenser coils at the back and at the front, you’ll see a housing made of sheet metal for the evaporator coils. Unscrew and remove this housing.
Avoid damaging the gasket, as this is what keeps the elements from getting into your RV through the air conditioner. The sheet metal does have sharp edges, so it’s recommended that you wear gloves when handling it.
Before you vacuum, make sure that you block any openings that lead into your RV. You want to make sure that no dirt, debris, or cleaner gets into the RV during this process, or you’ll have a mess to clean up once you’re done.
Using the soft brush attachment on your shop vac, you’ll want to vacuum both the evaporator and the condenser coils. You must be very gentle when doing this because the fins on the coils are made of aluminum, which can be easily bent.
You can get some heavy-duty aerosol or chemical cleaner- but if you prefer, a soap and water mixture in a spray bottle works just fine. Simply mix together soap and water and spray down both the evaporator and condenser coils.
Once the coils are nice and wet, allow them to sit for a few minutes to soak into the dirt that has collected. Then, gently wipe with a soft brush or cloth. If needed, you can vacuum again to get any debris that becomes dislodged during this part of the process.
Repeat if Needed
If the coils are extremely dirty or it’s been some time since you cleaned them last, you may need to repeat vacuuming and washing the coils once again. If not, you can move on to the next step in this process.
Now that the evaporator and condenser coils are clean, it’s a good time to inspect them for any bent/damaged fins. Bent fins will decrease airflow through the unit, which decreases the overall efficiency.
If you only have a few that are bent, you can use a screwdriver or a thin knife to straighten them. If there are a lot of bent/damaged fins, you might want to go purchase a fin comb to help straighten them.
Dry & Put Back Together
While the coils are drying, take some time to clean the cover as well. A quick scrub with the soap/water mixture should be fine. It’s also a great time to get rid of any “guests” that have taken up residence under the cover.
Once all of the components are dry, it’s time to put them all back together. Reinstall the sheet metal cover and, if necessary, replace the gasket. Then, screw everything back in place.
This process can be a bit time-consuming, but its easy to do. If you’re having issues with your air conditioner freezing up, this should help. Plus, this is part of the maintenance process that come with being an RV owner. This should be done at least once a year, sometimes once each season, depending on how often your RV is used.