Commercial HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems are an essential part of maintaining a comfortable indoor environment in any commercial building. One of the most critical components of these systems is the evaporator coil. It is responsible for absorbing heat from the air inside the building and transferring it to the refrigerant. Over time, however, the coil can become damaged or dirty, reducing its efficiency and potentially leading to costly breakdowns. This can eventually lead to an evaporator coil replacement. In this article we will talk through when to replace, how long coils last, considerations before buying and how to maintain your coils.
When to Replace the Evaporator Coil
There are several signs that indicate it’s time to replace the evaporator coil, including:
- Reduced airflow: If the airflow through the HVAC system is weak, it could be a sign that the coil is dirty or blocked.
- Reduced cooling: If the building is not as cool, it could be a sign that the coil is not working as it should.
- Increased energy costs: If your energy bills are higher than usual, it could be a sign that the coil is operating inefficiently. This will lead to higher energy costs.
- Leaks: If you notice any refrigerant leaks, it could be a sign of damage to the coil.
- Strange noise: If the system is making strange noise it is worth checking the coil to ensure it isn’t the source.
How Long Do Evaporator Coils Last?
The lifespan of an evaporator coil in a commercial HVAC unit can vary depending on a number of factors. On average, an evaporator coil in a commercial HVAC unit can last anywhere from 10-15 years. It’s important to note that this is a general estimate and that the actual lifespan of an evaporator coil can vary dramatically. However, with regular maintenance and proper usage, the coil can last even longer.
Factors that can affect the lifespan of an evaporator coil include:
- Quality of the coil: A high-quality coil made from durable materials is more likely to last longer than a low-quality coil.
- Usage: The amount of usage the coil receives can also affect its lifespan. A coil that cycles on and off frequently will likely break down sooner than a coil that cycles less frequently.
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and inspecting the coil, can help to extend its lifespan.
- Environmental conditions: The environment surrounding the coil can also affect its lifespan. A coil located in a dusty environment will likely break down sooner than a coil located in a clean environment.
- Refrigerant type: The type of refrigerant used in the system can also affect the coil lifespan. Some refrigerants can be more corrosive than others and can shorten the coil lifespan.
Choosing The Right Replacement
When choosing a replacement coil, it’s important to select a unit that is the right size for your HVAC system. It is also important to ensure the coil is compatible with the refrigerant used in your system. Make sure the coil also carries a good warranty. There are several types of commercial evaporator coils to consider, including:
- Tube-and-fin coils: These are the most common type of evaporator coils. They are made up of tubes with fins attached to them to increase the surface area.
- Micro-channel coils: These coils have smaller tubes and fins, which increases the heat transfer efficiency.
- Plate-and-frame coils: These coils consist of plates stacked together with a gasket in between to create a sealed unit.
- Spiral coils: These coils have spiral-shaped tubes and fins, which increases the surface area for heat transfer.
- Immersed coils: These coils are placed inside a tank or other container and are used for liquid cooling or heating.
- Adiabatic coils: These coils use an external water source to create a mist that cools the air passing through the coils.
- Enhanced surface coils: These coils have a special coating or material on the surface that increases the efficiency of heat transfer.
The Process of Replacing the Evaporator Coil
Replacing the evaporator coil is typically a job for a professional HVAC technician. The process typically involves:
- Removing the old coil: The technician will first remove the old coil from the HVAC system. Be careful nor to damage any other components in the system during this step.
- Installing the new coil: Once the old coil is out, the technician will install the new coil in its place. It is important to properly align the coil and connect the refrigerant lines in this step.
- Testing the system: Once the new coil is in, the technician will test the HVAC system. They are looking to make sure it performs properly and checking for leaks.
- Cleaning the system: The technician will also clean the system to ensure that all debris and dirt are removed.
Maintenance And Cleaning
Regular maintenance will slow down your need to have an evaporator coil replacement and is vital to the overall performance of the HVAC system. Some common preventive maintenance tasks to complete on evaporator coils include:
- Cleaning: Evaporator coils can become dirty and clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris, which can negatively impact their performance. Cleaning the coils helps to remove this buildup and improve efficiency.
- Inspecting: A visual inspection of the coils can help to identify any issues, such as leaks, corrosion, or damage.
- Tightening connections: Loose connections can cause the coil to malfunction. During maintenance, the technician will check all connections and tighten any that are loose.
- Checking the drain pan and drain lines: The evaporator coil has a drain pan and drain lines. They are designed to remove any condensation that forms on the coil. Ensure there are no clogs or overflowing water in the drain pan and lines.
- Measuring the refrigerant charge: The refrigerant charge is the amount of refrigerant in the coil. An undercharged or overcharged coil can cause the system to not function correctly.
It is recommended to have a professional HVAC technician perform evaporator coil maintenance at least once a year. Maintenance should be performed more frequently if the system is in a dirty or dusty environment. Regular maintenance can help to improve energy efficiency, prolong the life of the coil, and prevent costly repairs or replacements.
Evaporator Coil vs. Condenser Coil
An evaporator coil and a condenser coil are two different types of coils that are used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
The evaporator coil is typically located indoors and is responsible for absorbing heat from the inside air. As the warm indoor air passes over the evaporator coil, the refrigerant in the coil absorbs the heat and boils. This cause it to change from a liquid to a gas. This phase change allows the system to cool the indoor air, which is then distributed throughout the building by the fan.
The condenser coil, on the other hand, is typically located outdoors and is responsible for releasing the heat absorbed by the evaporator coil. As the refrigerant in the condenser coil passes through the coil, it condenses back into a liquid. This releases the heat absorbed from the indoor air. This process is typically aided by a fan that blows outdoor air over the coil to dissipate the heat.
Evaporator Coil Replacement Conclusion
The evaporator coil is an essential component of any commercial HVAC system, and its replacement should not be taken lightly. It’s important to pay attention to the signs of a malfunctioning evaporator coil and to seek professional assistance when necessary. It is also important to have a professional HVAC technician perform regular maintenance on the coil, at least once a year. (And more frequently if conditions require it.) Additionally, businesses should also be aware of the different types of evaporator coils available. By taking the necessary steps to properly maintain the commercial evaporator coil, businesses can ensure that their HVAC system is running at its best.