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Do I Need to Replace My Evaporator Coil?

With proper care and maintenance, in most cases you shouldn’t need to replace your evaporator coil before its time to replace your entire cooling system. If you’ve been slacking on your HVAC care, don’t worry — it’s not too late to catch up.

Your air conditioner works hard to keep you cool even on the hottest days. So when your HVAC system is malfunctioning because of a problem with your evaporator coil, it can leave you in a bit of a sticky situation. HVAC systems are complex: they contain many different moving parts that work together to remove heat from your home. When one part breaks, it can leave the whole system at a disadvantage (or even render it useless).

Why Your Evaporator Coil Matters

One key component of your HVAC system is the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil helps cool your home by removing heat and moisture from the air. To do its job, it needs to transfer heat from inside the home to the outside unit condenser coil. This is called the refrigerant cycle.

As air passes through the evaporator coil, it is cooled and humidity is removed. The cool dry air passes through your home by the ductwork. The condensate water collected on the coil fins drains into a collection trough and travels through a pipe to a condensate pump, sump pump pit, or into the stone beneath the concrete slab if it’s in a basement. So how do you know when it's time for a replacement?

Signs of a Damaged Evaporator Coil

Evaporators coils are supposed to last as long as your AC system, which is generally 12 to 15 years. But like any hardworking part, they’re prone to malfunction and subject to wear and tear over time. Here are some signs that it might be time for a coil replacement:

  • Leaking water around the indoor AC unit

  • Air conditioner is short cycling (starts and stops frequently)

  • Airflow feels weak

  • Strange or musty odor

  • Warm air blowing out of your air vents

Repairing Your Broken Evaporator Coil

Unfortunately, repairing a broken evaporator coil isn't always an option, especially in older units. As an essential part of your system, a leaky or broken evaporator coil could create issues in other parts of your unit. When dealing with broken evaporator coils, replacement is often a better choice than repair if you want your coil to help preserve the quality and safety of your HVAC system.

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