Foam Filter for 5 Ton Condenser Fan?

Old 04-19-19, 09:00 PM
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Foam Filter for 5 Ton Condenser Fan?

Hello all,

I have an Amana 5 Ton 15 Seer Cool-Only unit (model ASXC160601B). Purchased in 2012 and clean it religiously from the inside with shop vac and coil cleaner+garden hose. This year when I was inspecting the unit's coils through the front louvered grill guards I discovered that my 6 year's of cleaning the inside coils never really cleaned out the outside-facing coils. I guess when I washed and rinsed the inside coils, the cleaning agents and water barely penetrated to the outside-facing coils. Coils have depth to them and I don't use a very high-pressure rinse to prevent coil damage.

It was a PITA to remove the front four grills off the condenser unit today to access and clean the excessive dust from the front coils. I used an hvac approved blue brush and gently dusted off ALOT of dirt. Then applied foaming bio-degradable coil cleaner and rinsed it off completely. I have yet to put the grills back together and just covered the unit for now and will tackle to put the front grills back together during daylight tomorrow.

I don't see myself cleaning the front coils often due to the difficulty of removing the grill guards and putting it all back together. Keep in mind that the Condenser unit is on a rigid plastic condenser pad and the pad is ontop of a concrete slab. I guess the dust that accumulated over the last 7 years was all the dirt and debris from neighboring yards.

My question to you fine folks: is it wise to fabricate some type of washable foam filter to surround the 4 sides of the intake of the outdoor condenser unit? I am not adding a filter ontop where the fan is blowing air out, I only am trying to design something that will wrap around the intake grills (all 4 sides) to trap dirt, dust and debris. I've been researching filter screens that companies make and they don't appear to filter well. What I want to do is just get a 1 inch thick (merv 4-ish) black foam filter roll and wrap it around the unit so it catches all the dust, dirt and debris and can save me time and hassle of taking apart the front grills every year. I would make two identical foam filters so when one accumulates a large amount of dust and debrees (3-4 weeks) I will just wash it and put another one on the unit right away. I fear too much air flow restriction with a filter like I am proposing. What are your thoughts and suggestions? Anything you guys and gals have come across that can filter and keep your outdoor condenser fan coils clean?

Overall, I know the importance of clean coils, condenser uses less energy to cool the home and maintain temp with clean coils!

Last edited by Pastalover; 04-19-19 at 09:47 PM.
Old 04-20-19, 02:51 AM
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I know the importance of clean coils, condenser uses less energy to cool the home and maintain temp with clean coils!
Honestly I think you are going a little overboard with the cleaning

The "efficiency" gains by all the cleaning are probably so small that I doubt you could measure the difference.

Not knocking the effort but now trying to put a filter on the unit is overkill!
Old 04-20-19, 06:16 AM
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Unless you clean those filters on the condenser almost daily it would be a bad idea.
Condenser fins are designed to let most dust pass through and if you install a filter it will stop almost all dust and would overheat the ac unit.
It is correct that a small amount of dirt between fins would affect efficiency somewhat but it takes quite a bit to overheat the unit.
Use a garden gose with a solid stream nozzle from the ouside in and you will get most if not all the dirt.
You can get a foaming cleaner that will expand and foam up helping loosen dirt.
A pressure washer can also work but it takes some skill to approach the fins with the spray from only straight on so as not to damage fins.

A way to have some idea how the ac is performing is to grasp the liquid line which is the smaller one going into the house on a hot day and you should feel that the line is only luke warm.
The design temperature of this line should be in the therange of 100 - 120 DegF if working properly.
IOW on a hot day it should not be noticeably warm.
Old 04-20-19, 06:47 AM
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I buy a roll of single use media rolls from Ace hardware. It's 1/2" thick and I peel it into 1/4" sheets to maximize air flow. I can easily see through it 90 percent.. Wrap around condenser unit to catch all the cottonseed that clogs my unit the first week of the season. It is not intended, nor desirable to capture dust and dirt. Dust will pass through safely so do not try to capture it. FYI, residential coils are hosed from the inside out. Just remove the top instead of the 4 sides.
Old 04-20-19, 06:25 PM
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Thanks for the reply all!

I do clean the unit from the inside. I did it for 6 years and just noticed this year that the 6 years of annual cleaning wasn't effective for the front covered coils at all. The front-facing coils were really gunked up bad. I was brushing off rolls and rolls of nasty stuff. It was all blackish-brown, almost looked like random yard dirt on the front coils. This surprises/perplexes me since the unit is surrounded by concrete flooring. I guess yard dirt does travel far from neighbors' yards and anything airborne.

You made some excellent points. My Central air works like a dream, suction is always cold and liquid side is luke warm like you said. I would not feel comfortable pressure washing the coils though, I fear I might damage the coils and the possibility of combing them straight again. I will look into a better coil foaming agent to apply to coils next year (from the inside). Perhaps also using a stronger and straighter stream from garden hose nozzle as well so it can wash all the depth of the coils.

Yes, I know I am overkill. I want all my machines to last a very long time so I maintain them as best I can (including my family cars). I just want this unit to last. I forgot to mention that I also waxed the Condenser housing and fan blades to prevent them from rusting ! YUP I am that guy.

Okay so from what I gathered, unless I am replacing the foam filters every day or every other day then it's not worth it. I believe my cleaning method and the tools I use just need an upgrade then.

Last edited by Pastalover; 04-20-19 at 07:57 PM.
Old 04-22-19, 09:45 AM
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Only good way to clean those coils is to split them. Remove the top and sides and you should be able to do this.
Old 04-22-19, 10:01 AM
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You're absolutely right. That would be the easiest and foolproof way. Those front panels were really a pain to take off and put back on again. I cut the skin on one of my fingers while putting the front panels back on bc they were stubborn to go back into the base's grooves. I have a strong suspicioun that the condenser panels were deformed when the unit was shipped to me. Something was probably stacked ontop of the condenser but whatever it works, no leaks.

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