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How Long Do Evaporator Coils Last

Apr 07, 2020

Two AC units outside a Northern Virginia home with CroppMetcalfe technician's tools and gloves.


Your air conditioner works by removing the heat accumulating within the home and venting it outside. The machine typically consists of a compressor, condenser coil, evaporator coils, blower fan, condenser fan, thermostat, and other electric circuits, wires, and tubing.


If any part of your AC unit ceases to function properly, including your evaporator coils, your entire AC unit could be compromised. The evaporator coils work to provide cold air for your home and create a more comfortable living space, so without them being in good working condition, your AC air won’t be so cool. Read on to learn how long evaporator coils last, when to know if you need an evaporator coil replacement, and other important details about your evaporator coils.

What Are Evaporator Coils?

The evaporator coil lives inside your home, typically beneath the blower fan which tends to be in the attic of the home or a utility closet. It can usually be accessed through the ductwork or a service port. In some cases, however, you will need to create an opening by cutting through the duct in order to access the evaporator coils.


Evaporator coils are usually made of aluminium or copper tubing and are about ? inch in diameter. They tend to be serpentine inshape, curved through a grid of cooling fins. The cooling fins help absorb heat coming from the air flow while also cooling the air flowing downstream into the air ducts.

How Long Do Evaporator Coils Last?

For an evaporator coil to live out the fullest extent of its life, the AC unit must be regularly maintained. If proper maintenance is regularly performed, then the evaporator coils should last 10 to 15 years, which is the ideal lifetime for an evaporator coil and comparable to the lifespan of an AC unit. However, how long your evaporator coils last will be much shorter if your unit is improperly maintained.


An evaporator coil that is improperly maintained won’t last nearly as long. Pollen, dirt, and dust can all move past the air filter if the unit isn’t regularly cleaned, collecting on the evaporator coil over time. Since the evaporator coils are moist with condensation, these particles stick to the coil, providing a landing pad of sorts for more dust and particles to stack up. 


This not only reduces the efficiency of the AC unit, but it also invites corrosion which could lead to leakage and other issues. A build-up of dirt and other debris can block air flow and cause ice build up, which could potentially destroy the evaporator coils entirely if left unchecked.


Your AC unit needs to be maintenanced regularly to prevent issues like these from arising.

Signs You Need to Replace Your Evaporator Coils

Most air conditioners and their evaporator coils operate free of issues for at least ten years, but the evaporator coils could develop a maintenance issue and require replacements. Here are some signs to look out for that could indicate you need an evaporator coil replacement:


  • Your HVAC unit struggles to make the transition from heating to air conditioning
  • You have warm air blowing through your air vents
  • There is leakage around your air conditioning unit
  • Your air conditioner keeps turning on and off without properly cooling the home
  • Your air conditioner won't turn on at all
  • There are strange sounds coming from your AC unit, like hissing, clanging, or banging

While damaged evaporator coils might just need a good cleaning, there could be some benefits to replacing them. Depending on the efficiency, age, and size of the problem with your evaporator coils, here are some benefits there could be to replacing them altogether:


  • If your evaporator coils are still covered by your manufacturer's warranty, a replacement could be more cost effective then a repair. Check with your warranty to see what's best for you.
  • Typically, if the cost to repair your evaporator coils is greater than half the cost of evaporator coil replacement, it might be more cost effective to replace them.
  • If your evaporator coils are nearing or over 10 years old, a replacement might be your best choice.
  • If your air conditioning unit is over 10 years old, it might be a better choice to replace your evaporator coils rather than to replace them (or you could need a full air conditioner replacement.)

If you decide to get an evaporator coil replacement, be sure you do so along with your compressor since both of these pieces of your AC unit must match if your unit is to work efficiently. If you replace the evaporator coils only, you might run into some maintenance issues, corrosion, and an inefficiently working AC unit.

Help Your Evaporator Coils Last

The right evaporator coil is vital for getting the most out of your air conditioner or heat pump. CroppMetcalfe offers a wide range of Performance Series evaporator coils, engineered to fit your specific installation environment and manage the refrigerant to ensure maximum heating and cooling of your home. 


To speak with one of our experts, call 703-698-8855 or schedule an appointment online today.


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"I've been a CroppMetcalfe customer for 9 years and you have always provided outstanding service. I just had my semi-annual maintenance done, and I wanted to thank George for the truly outstanding service, professionalism, and excellent advice. He is definitely one of the best 5-Star Technicians I've had! Thank you CroppMetcalfe!"

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