How to Straighten Air Conditioning Coil Fins


Basic maintenance on both room and central air conditioners includes straightening any bent fins. Check on and straighten any bent fins on both the evaporator and condenser coils. Bent fins cut down on the unit's efficiency, because straight fins allow air to pass freely between them. Before you straighten the fins, remember to clean them also. With a central unit, you sometimes only have access to the fins on the outside condenser. You find both the condenser and evaporator coils inside a room air conditioner.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Fin comb
  • Paint brush

Room Air Conditioner

  • Remove the air conditioner plug from the wall outlet. Push the window up enough to allow you, or a helper, to slide the air conditioner out of the window. Place the unit on top of a table.

  • Remove the unit's front grill by either pulling it off, or by removing any screws that hold it in place, using a screwdriver, then pulling it off. Remove the filter behind the grill.

  • Remove the screws that hold the unit's outer cabinet in place, using a screwdriver. These screws are often located on the lower section of the cabinet. Remove the cabinet.

  • Clean any dirt from the coils, using a vacuum cleaner. Straighten any bent fins on the coils, using a fin comb. Gently run the comb down lengthwise, from top to bottom, between bent fins, much like you would if you were combing hair. Comb the fins until they are straight and parallel to each other. Don't over-comb and damage the fins.

  • Install the cabinet back on the air conditioner, tightening the screws with a screwdriver. Place the unit back into the window, and make sure all gaps between the unit and window are sealed. Plug the unit's cord into the electrical outlet.

Central Air Conditioning

  • Shut off power to the air conditioning, either by flipping the corresponding circuit breaker in the circuit breaker panel to the off position or by flipping the outside disconnect switch near the condenser to the off position.

  • Brush dirt and debris, such as leaves, away from the condenser coil fins on the outside of the condenser, using a paint brush.

  • Insert the blades of a fin comb between the coil fins and gently brush downward, starting from the top. Brush the fins until they are straight and parallel.

  • Restore power to the air conditioning, through either the circuit breaker or the disconnect switch.

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