Climate Control

Climate control is the technology of controlling fluids and gases to vary the temperature. Parker provides comfort, convenience, and control through refrigeration and air conditioning (HVACR).
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Parker Sporlan Head Pressure Control Charging RecommendationsThe design and operation of Parker Sporlan Head Pressure Control Valves are discussed thoroughly in Bulletin 90-30. Installation and service is covered in Bulletin 90-31. This Climate Control blog will provide complete charging instructions, from determining the correct amount of refrigerant to actually charging the system.

If the manufacturer of your equipment provides charging information it should be used. However, if it is not provided, the following procedure is suggested.

Determining the amount of charge

When “refrigerant side” head pressure control is utilized on a system, one of the most important factors is determining the total system refrigerant charge. While on most packaged units the amount of charge is listed on the unit, the required charge for a field built-up system cannot be listed by the manufacturer. The charge is usually added when the system is started up until “proper” system performance is reached. However, this is not satisfactory and if the system is to function properly year-round, the correct amount of extra charge must be calculated ahead of time.

Retrofit precautions

When changing refrigerants on a retrofit, be sure to calculate the refrigerant charge required for the new refrigerant. The density of the alternate refrigerants varies considerably from their CFC predecessors. In other words, if you remove 10 pounds of R-12 from a system being retrofitted to R-401A, do not charge the system with 10 pounds of R-401A. Typically, an R-401A system would only need approximately 90% of the R-12 previously required.

There are two methods of calculating the extra charge necessary to flood the condenser if the condenser manufacturer does not publish this data.

1. Completely Flooded Condenser

The easiest method is to calculate the volume of the condenser coil and then use the density factor of the refrigerant shown in Table 1 on Page 4 of Bulletin 90-30-1 to figure the pounds of refrigerant necessary to completely flood the condenser coil at the appropriate ambient. The factors involved in calculating the extra pounds of refrigerant are:

a. Length of tubing and return bends in condenser

b. Minimum ambient temperature at which systems will be required to function 

c. Tubing size and wall thickness

d. Refrigerant

Parker Sporlan LAC-4The primary point to remember in selecting the proper density factor is that when the liquid drain valve (ORI, OROA, or LAC) is throttling, the refrigerant temperature will be at the same temperature as the ambient.

EXAMPLE: Calculate the extra refrigerant charge necessary for a Refrigerant 22, roof-top, air conditioning unit (40°F evaporator and a minimum condensing temperature of 90°F) with compressor unloading to 33-1/3% of full compressor capacity. To determine the equivalent length of tubing in a condenser proceed as follows: First, count the number of tubes and multiply this by their length.

Example: 150 tubes x 7.55 feet = 1132.5 feet

Next, count the return bends and multiply them by the factor shown in Table 1.

Example: 150 bends x .250 for 1/2 inch bends = 37.5 feet

Then add this 37.5 feet to the 1132.5 feet for a total of 1170 feet

The system uses a 30 hp condensing unit with a condenser coil containing 1170 equivalent feet of 1/2 inch tubing (tubes and return bends). Assume a design temperature of minus 20°F minimum ambient. From Table 1 we find the density factor necessary to calculate the pounds of extra refrigerant to completely flood the condenser at minus 20°F: 1170 feet x .102 pounds/foot = 119 pounds.

2. Partially Flooded Condenser

On many systems it isn’t necessary to completely flood the condenser to maintain sufficient operating head pressure (equivalent to approximately 90°F condensing temperature) because of a milder climate than Method 1 assumes. Therefore, a second method is available. The additional information found in Tables 2 and 3 on Page 8 of Bulletin 90-30-1 can be used to figure more closely the charge necessary to properly flood the condenser for sufficient head pressure at various minimum ambient temperatures. (The multipliers are applied to the extra refrigerant charge that was calculated in Method 1 to completely flood the condenser.)

EXAMPLE: Our example calls for a compressor equipped with unloaders. Since the compressor would unload at the low ambients this must be taken into consideration. This is necessary since as the compressor unloads, the condenser’s capacity increases and additional flooding is required. Using the same roof-top unit as in the earlier example (40°F evaporator and minus 20°F minimum ambient), a multiplier of .79 is shown in Table 2. And since we have unloaders (33-1/3%), this .79 is used to enter Table 3 to find a multiplier of .95. This final multiplier is applied to the 119 pounds calculated earlier to arrive at the final extra charge requirement: 119 x .95 = 113 pounds. This is added to the normal system charge to arrive at a total system charge.

Since the majority of “low and medium suction” condensing units are already flooded 75% or more for any minimum ambient temperatures below 20°F, no data is supplied for these units even when they use unloaders. The normal procedure is to recommend flooding from 90 to 100% for these units when they have unloaders.

Refrigerant charging procedures

Normally this information is supplied by the equipment manufacturer. And when it is available, it should be followed. When it is not available from the equipment manufacturer, the following suggestions are recommended.

Once the amount of extra refrigerant charge is calculated, care must be taken in charging the system to ensure the proper total amount of refrigerant getting into the system. This is especially true if the ambient temperature is below 70°F and the liquid drain valve (ORI, OROA, or LAC) is throttling the refrigerant flow from the condenser. A step-by-step procedure is given below for the two possible situations that can exist. And depending on the ambient temperature at the time the system is charged, each should be carefully followed to ensure proper system operation in both summer and winter. In either case, a liquid seal must be established in the receiver before the system can start to function correctly.

NOTE: While charging any system with head pressure control, the outdoor ambient temperature must be known. And if the system has compressor unloaders, it is important to know if they are functioning during the charging procedure. To keep this procedure as simple as possible, it is recommended that the unloaders be locked out (compressor fully loaded) during charging.

Charging of Systems with Parker Sporlan Head Pressure Control in Ambients ABOVE 70°F (After normal evacuation procedures) Before Starting System

1. Connect refrigerant cylinder to a charging or gauge port on the receiver outlet valve.

2. Open the receiver valve approximately one-half way (so receiver and liquid line are connected to charging or gauge port).

3. Charge liquid refrigerant into the high side of the system. Weighing the charge is recommended with the initial charge consisting of approximately 2.5 pounds per system ton.

4. Remove the refrigerant drum and connect it to the suction side of the compressor. 

5. Charge refrigerant vapor into the low side until the pressure is above atmospheric pressure. Do not admit liquid refrigerant into the low side.

6. Start the system. 

7. Observe See•All moisture and liquid indicator (at receiver outlet) to see if system is properly charged for normal refrigeration cycle. CAUTION: Bubbles in the See•All can be caused by flashing due to pressure drop from pipe or accessory losses, etc. 

8. If the See•All shows bubbles, more refrigerant should be added, while allowing sufficient time for the refrigerant to stabilize and clear the See•All.

9. The extra refrigerant charge for head pressure control should be weighed in now by admitting liquid refrigerant to the high side. 

Charging of Systems with Sporlan Head Pressure Control in Ambients BELOW 70°F (After normal evacuation procedures)

NOTE: When charging in ambients below 70°F the procedure is very critical. Be sure to adhere to the following steps without fail. Failure to do so will result in overcharging the system.

1. Follow instructions 1 through 7 above. 

2. If the ORI, OROA, or LAC valve setting is correct for the system being charged, it is quite likely that some refrigerant will be backed up into the condenser and the See•All will indicate bubbles in the liquid line. 

3. Add more refrigerant, while allowing sufficient time for the refrigerant to stabilize and clear the See•All. 

4. At this point, the system is correctly charged for this type of head pressure control at the ambient temperature that exists while the charging procedure is taking place. 

5. If the system is designed to operate at ambients below the ambient that exists during charging, an additional charge will have to be added now. 

6. To calculate the additional charge required, follow the examples outlined under “Refrigerant Charge” except remember that the “head pressure control charge” is partially charged already. Refer to Tables 2 and 3. The difference in percentages between the minimum design ambient temperature and the ambient temperature at the time the system is charged gives the percent of extra charge still needed in the system. E.g., if this system was charged at an ambient of 50°F, we have approximately 40% of the extra charge in the system. This holds true as long as the compressor unloaders were not operating during charging. Therefore, the additional charge required is 95 minus 40 or 55% of the total extra charge calculated previously. This is .55 x 119 or 65 pounds.

Since good system performance during low ambient operation depends on proper refrigerant charge, it is very important that this phase of the installation procedure be done carefully. Many times, poor system performance will be due to too little or too much charge. And in many cases this will be the last item suspected.


Jason Forshee

HVACR Tech Tip Article contributed by Jason Forshee, application engineer,  Sporlan Division of Parker Hannifin






Additional resources:

HVACR Tech Tip: What You Need to Know About Flooded Head Pressure Control

HVACR Tech Tip: Guidelines for How to Size Solenoid Valves for Split Condensers

HVACR Tech Tip: Guide to Servicing Blended Refrigerants


HVACR Tech Tip: How to Determine Total Refrigerant System Charge When Using Head Pressure Control

Read More

How to Size a Solenoid Split CondenserAs most of us know, sizing solenoid valves for split condensers seem to be more of an art, than a science. Many tangibles affect the calculations. This Climate Control blog will provide some guidelines for sizing solenoid valves for split condenser systems. While it is not perfect, it should help in sizing valves to match the capacity requirements. This is not intended to replace existing sizing methods used by our customers. It is intended to be used where no other information is provided and/or double check for selections. The goal is to match the proper valve to the proper capacity to provide the best system operation. In sizing these valves consider both system design conditions and low load winter conditions as well.


Helpful tips
  1. When a Medium Temp rack subcools a Low Temp rack, the subcooler load will drop off during winter operation. When sizing these valves for this application, the removal of this subcooler load must be considered.

  2. When one has compound cooling compressors or vapor injection be sure to use the subcooled temperature.

Parker Sporlan Solenoid Valve   To calculate the line capacity follow the rules below:
  • Take the total evaporator load x 110% then divide by the number of split condenser valves.

  • For split suction racks the total evaporator load is equal to the combined evaporator load of each suction.

  To calculate the liquid line temperature follow the rules below:
  • For suction groups or standalone racks that are externally subcooled use the subcooled liquid temperature.

  • For suction groups or standalone racks that are self‐subcooled take the design condensing temperature minus 20°F.

  • For suction groups or standalone racks that are not subcooled take the design condensing temperature minus 20°F.

  • For split suction racks follow the above rules and calculate the liquid temperature for each suction group then find the weighted average liquid temperature using the formula below.

    Suction 1 Evaporator Load = SQ1       Suction 1 Liquid Temperature = ST1

Suction 1 Evaporator Load = SQ2       Suction 1 Liquid Temperature = ST2

Total Evaporator load = TQ                  Weighted Average Liquid Temperature = WALT

[(SQ1/TQ) x ST1] + [(SQ2/TQ) x ST2] = WALT


To calculate evaporator temperature follow the rules below:
  • For single suction group or standalone rack use the design suction evaporator temperature.

  • For split suction racks calculate the weighted average evaporator temperature using the formula below.

Suction 1 Evaporator Load = SQ1       Suction 1 Liquid Temperature = SE1

Suction 1 Evaporator Load = SQ2       Suction 1 Liquid Temperature = SE2

Total Evaporator load = TQ                  Weighted Average Liquid Temperature = WAET

[(SQ1/TQ) x SE1] + [(SQ2/TQ) x SE2] = WAET

The above information will provide a general guideline if no other information is available.

One psi pressure drop is required for proper operation of pilot operated solenoid valves. As a guide, try to achieve a 2 psi pressure drop during summer conditions. Where possible using a larger pressure drop will provide more of a cushion for valve operation.

For more information on Solenoid 3-Way Valves see Parker Sporlan Bulletin 30-20.


User Safety Responsibility Statement 


  • This document and other information from Parker-Hannifin Corporation, its subsidiaries and authorized distributors provide product or system options for further investigation by users having technical expertise. 
  • The user, through its own analysis and testing, is solely responsible for making the final selection of the system and components and assuring that all performance, endurance, maintenance, safety and warning requirements of the application are met. The user must analyze all aspects of the application, follow applicable industry standards, and follow the information concerning the product in the current product catalog and in any other materials provided from Parker or its subsidiaries or authorized distributors. 
  • To the extent that Parker or its subsidiaries or authorized distributors provide component or system options based upon data or specifications provided by the user, the user is responsible for determining that such data and specifications are suitable and sufficient for all applications and reasonably foreseeable uses of the components or systems.


Jim Eckelkamp

HVACR Tech Tip Article contributed by Jim Eckelkamp, senior application engineer,  Sporlan Division of Parker Hannifin





Additional resources:

HVACR Tech Tip: What You Need to Know About Flooded Head Pressure Control

HVACR Tech Tip: Considering a Refrigeration System Retrofit? Part 1

HVACR Tech Tip: Considering a Refrigeration System Retrofit? Part 2

HVACR Tech Tip: Considering a Refrigeration System Retrofit? Part 3

HVACR Tech Tip: Guidelines for How to Size Solenoid Valves for Split Condensers

Read More

 With the introduction of ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings we have come across many people in the HVACR industry that have questions about using it. So here we answer the 10 most common questions about using ZoomLock. 

Q1: What tools are compatible with ZoomLock jaws?

Three different jaw configurations are available to ensure a broad range of compatibility to use with your preferred tool. Options include:

Klauke: 19 kN Crimping Tool MAP2L19

RIDGID Compact Press Tool Models: RP 240, RP 241, RP 200, RP 210, RP 100 

Milwaukee: M12™ FORCE LOGIC™ Press Tool 2473-20

Q2: Can ZoomLock be crimped in the same location as Viega ProPress fittings?

No. ZoomLock is different than other industry crimping technology. The jaw must align between the o-ring and outer flange. Grooves in the jaws make it easy to align. The fittings will leak if you do not crimp as stated in the ZoomLock installation instructions. Proper crimping alignment is also illustrated in the photo above.

Q3: How many ZoomLock crimps can you complete on a full battery charge?

On average you can achieve 100-150 crimps per charge depending on the size fittings being crimped. Each Klauke Tool kit comes with 2 Makita Lithium-ion 2.0 Ah 18V batteries (BL1820B) and a rapid charge charging system. To prevent any downtime, it is recommended that you have both batteries charged before going to the job site and to have one charging while the other is in use.

Q4: When pushing the ZoomLock fitting onto the copper tube, how do I know the correct insertion depth?

 Use the depth gauge provided or the minimum insertion depth chart to determine the correct insertion depth. Mark the tubing with a permanent marker to indicate proper insertion depth on every tube.

Q5: Do you have a solution for crimping onto flared tubing like that coming out of the condenser and evaporator on residential units?

No, we do not have a specific product designed to crimp over the flared tubing. However, if there is at least 2 inches of straight copper tubing after the flared end and is accessible with the jaws, we suggest that you cut the flared end off and crimp directly to the tube.

Q6: Can you use ZoomLock to crimp to aluminum, steel, or stainless steel?

No, ZoomLock is specifically designed for copper to copper connections. Connecting to dissimilar metals can cause formicary corrosion issues that could cause a failure.

Q7: Is ZoomLock approved by state and city building codes?

ZoomLock has been approved by UL-207, ASHRAE 15, International Code Council – Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), International Mechanical Code (IMC), Universal Mechanical Code (UMC), and International Residential Code (IRC). These approvals are all that is needed in most areas. Please contact your local building inspector with questions prior to install.

Q8: What material is the o-ring made of?

The o-ring is a highly engineered HNBR Parker o-ring that has been used in HVAC applications by OEMs and suppliers for many years with no issues.

Q9: Can you show an example of a “good” copper tube surface after sanding?

 Figure 1 below shows an example of a good tube. Figure 2 is an example of a tube with a bad scratch that requires proper tube preparation. It is very important to follow deburring, sanding and inspection steps 4 to 8 in the installation instructions.

Q10: What is the #1 cause of leaky fittings?

Skipping the installation instructions will cause the tube to leak. It is very important to use the scouring pad and deburr tool included in the kit. Refrigerant gas at the maximum rated 700 psi pressure is more likely to leak than water at a much lower pressure, therefore, following the tube preparation instructions is very important. See the video below for proper tube preparation.


 Download our complete list of ZoomLock Troubleshooting and Frequently Asked Questions here.









Article contributed by Parker Sporlan Division.

HVACR Tech Tip: 12 Solutions for Fixing Common TEV Problems

HVACR Tech Tip: Where Should the TEV External Equalizer Be Installed?

HVACR Tech Tip: Principles of Thermostatic Expansion Valves



The 10 Most Common Questions About ZoomLock Flame-Free Refrigerant Fittings

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HVACR Tech Tip: How to Stop Hydraulic Hammering Noise in Heat Pump Systems - Thermostatic Expansion Valve - CBBI  - Parker SporlanCustomers have complained of hydraulic hammering noises on heat pump systems for years. Field people refer to it as the “knock-knock” noise. The complaints usually surface at the end of the heating season. The noise apparently occurs following a heating cycle during the light load part of the year. This means it could occur sometime in March or April and reportedly is most noticeable in the early hours of the morning. The compressor cycles off after a heating cycle and the hydraulic hammering or “knock-knock” noise commence shortly thereafter.


Theory - cause of the hydraulic hammering noise

Hydraulic hammering can occur with abrupt impedance (a valve closes) to non-compressible fluid flow (liquid). This can create an initial shock wave which can then resonate through the system piping. During the heating mode, the internal check valve in a thermostatic expansion valve (TEV) would normally be in the open position on the indoor coil with reverse flow through the valve. The check valve on the indoor coil’s TEV would tend to close after the compressor cycles to the off position. However, gravity would tend to hold the check valve in the open position if the TEV was in a vertical position with the thermostatic element assembly (also known as the power head in general industry vernacular) pointing down towards the earth even after the compressor cycles to the off position. This could promote normal forward flow through the indoor coil TEV during the system pressure equalization process. Forward flow through the check assembly does cause the check valve to close by design. This could account for the necessary abrupt change that must take place to create the initial shock wave thus creating the hydraulic hammering phenomenon. If this theory has any merit, repositioning the TEV to eliminate the force of gravity would reduce or curtail the hydraulic hammering problem.

Refer to Figure 1; the Type CBBI valve is depicted with the check valve in both a Closed and an Open position.

HVACR Tech Tip: How to Stop Hydraulic Hammering Noise in Heat Pump Systems - Check Valve - Parker Sporlan

Figure 1


Site & system details

Previous field trips to supposed trouble job locations yielded negative results, meaning no objectionable noise was ever observed, much less repeated. That was about to change with this trip. The trouble job was located in a historic home (1870 vintage) in South Central Texas that had been restored and remodeled with the input of an architect. It was fitted with acid washed concrete floors, stone walls, hardwood accents and a relatively new heat pump system supplied by one of the major equipment manufacturers.

The heat pump system utilized R-22 as the refrigerant and was fitted with the CBIVE-2-GA on both the indoor and outdoor coils. The air handling unit and indoor coil were mounted in the ceiling in close proximity to the bedroom; the equipment was relatively new and had been supplied and installed via reputable means. If this system exhibited the so-called “knock- knock” noise, it would certainly reverberate through-out this structure of hard surfaces.

A scroll type compressor with a discharge line check valve was deployed on this unit; the discharge line check valve is intended to prevent the compressor from running in a reverse direction following an off cycle. The system was originally installed with the TEV in a horizontal position in the indoor coil. The line set was within the OEM’s specified requirements regarding size and design. The piping was routed through the attic and above grade.

The unit had been previously re-charged with R-22 to confirm system integrity and removal of non-condensable contaminants. The system was checked for proper superheat and sub-cooling performance while we were at the site. Superheat was approximately 12°F and sub-cooling was approximately 11°F. These numbers were all within OEM specifications. The system heated and cooled adequately and there was never a complaint regarding this aspect of performance.



Based on the theory, we decided to first remove the Chatleff style piston assembly in the distributor. We speculated that perhaps the piston which serves as both a check valve for reverse flow and a nozzle assembly for forwarding flow was contributing to the hydraulic hammer perhaps in conjunction with the TEV’s check valve. The system was pumped down and the piston assembly was removed. The system charge was not modified.

Even with the piston assembly removed from the distributor, the hydraulic hammering noise could reliably be produced; however, the time duration of the noise was shortened considerably. We reinstalled the piston assembly in the Chatleff distributor.

We then repositioned the indoor coil TEV so as to be totally upright; i.e., in a vertical position with the thermostatic element pointing towards the sky. We were able to accomplish this by simply rotating the TEV as enough “slack” existed in the system piping. Again, this was performed without disturbing the system charge in any way. This solved the problem on this trouble job. Merely rotating the TEV to prevent gravity from opening the check valve following the heating mode cycle prevents the hydraulic hammering noise. We then attempted to reproduce the noise over the course of two days and were unable to reproduce it while prior to repositioning the TEV it could easily be done.

The problem occurs only when the necessary system conditions exist. It appears the indoor coil TEV needs to be upside down or at least on its side and TEVs must be present on both the indoor and outdoor coils for the noise to occur. It may also be necessary for the discharge check valve on the scroll compressor to have some associated leak rate; it is speculated this may contribute to the necessary system conditions for noise to occur.

Refer to Figure 2 for recommended TEV positions when equipped with the internal check valve. These recommendations pertain to TEVs equipped with internal check valves that are installed in the valve body so as to be parallel to a vertical line through the center of the TEV. The Sporlan Type CBI and CBBI thermostatic expansion valves are examples of this type of construction.


HVACR Tech Tip: How to Stop Hydraulic Hammering Noise in Heat Pump Systems - Thermostatic Expansion Valve placement - Parker Sporlan



The hydraulic hammering noise would not surface with any other expansion device on the outdoor coil; both the indoor and outdoor coils must be equipped with a thermostatic expansion valve. If the outdoor unit was fitted with a fixed tube orifice of any kind or a TEV with a bleed port, the noise didn’t occur. Apparently, this provides a “vent “or release for the pressure differential after the compressor cycles to the off position and the shock wave never occurs. In all cases, the problem can occur with conventional and balanced ports alike and includes most any competitive product that utilizes a gravity influenced check valve for reverse flow for a bypass around the main port.

Furthermore, the noise issue is not a valve malfunction. The thermostatic expansion valve controls superheat at the bulb location in spite of the noise issue. The problem only occurs when the necessary system conditions exist. It appears the indoor coil TEV needs to be upside down or at least on its side and non-bleed style TEVs must be present on both the indoor and outdoor coils for the noise to occur. It may also be necessary for the discharge check valve on the scroll compressor to have some associated leak rate.

And finally, with the TEV in a vertical position and the thermostatic element pointing towards the sky, the noise will not occur.

For more information about TEVs see Bulletin 10-10 Thermostatic Expansion Valves.


HVACR Tech Tip: How to Stop Hydraulic Hammering Noise in Heat Pump Systems - Jim Jansen, Senior Application Engineer - Parker Sporlan

Article contributed by Jim Jansen, senior application engineer, Sporlan Division of Parker Hannifin






Additional resources on HVACR Tech Tips:

HVACR Tech Tip: Understanding and Preventing Superheat Hunting in TEVs

HVACR Tech Tip: Using Bi-Directional Solenoid Valves for Heat Pumps

HVACR Tech Tip: Troubleshooting Solenoid Valves in Refrigeration Applications

HVACR Tech Tip: How to Stop Hydraulic Hammering Noise in Heat Pump Systems

Read More

How to Clean a Condenser Coil - AC unit being sprayed - Parker SporlanCondenser coil cleaning is one of those subjects in which there is much misdirection and misinformation being propagated by some manufacturers/distributors that has caused unfortunate confusion in the industry. Addressed below are answers to common questions to set the record straight on the use of these products.

Why do condenser coil cleaners foam and evaporator coils usually don’t?

Condenser coils depend on a chemical reaction between the aluminum fins and either a strong acid or alkaline solution to clean the coils. This chemical reaction produces heat and several fumes and gasses (primarily hydrogen) which causes the coil cleaner to foam and push out the dirt loosened by the wetting and heating process. If a foaming condenser coil cleaner is used and does not foam, it means that aluminum is not in the coil (possibly a steel or copper coil), or grease, oil, paint or some other substance is keeping the cleaner from contacting the aluminum and creating the reaction. Due to the fumes given off in this process, these types of cleaners are not suitable for use inside. Evaporator coil cleaners are specifically formulated for indoor use and, although probably not as effective as the foaming condenser coil cleaners, they are effective cleaners on the types of dirt commonly found on evaporator coils.

What is the difference between the acid and non-acid condenser coil cleaners?

In the past, acid based condenser coil cleaners were the standard. There really was no other option. The primary acid of choice was hydrofluoric acid (HF) because it reacted well with aluminum to create the desired foam. It was common knowledge that HF was a serious chemical and needed to be used with a certain amount of caution. One of the peculiar things about HF is that if it comes in contact with skin, it typically does not create a burning sensation immediately. Instead it can soak into the skin and later cause the user pain. By this time, skin and tissue damage is advanced and may require a trip to the doctor for a neutralizing injection.

Due to this danger, coil cleaner manufacturers developed alternative acidic cleaner formulas that did not contain HF directly, as well as non-acid (alkaline) coil cleaners whose primary ingredient was either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, both of which are very similar chemically. These chemicals do cause a burning sensation when in contact with skin and the discomfort will encourage the user to rinse the cleaner off before serious skin and tissue damage occurs. It should be noted, however, that neither type of cleaner should be called safe. Both the acid and alkaline condenser coil cleaners can cause serious skin and eye damage, and the vapors, especially those during the cleaning process, can cause serious lung and throat problems and should be used with caution. Due to the change of ground pH, both types of cleaners can kill grass and other foliage immediately around the condenser coil. Both types of coil cleaners are technically biodegradable. Both types are for outdoor use only. Both types should be rinsed thoroughly from the coil and surrounding area when the coil cleaning process is complete. These are serious chemicals and demand serious respect.

Both acidic and alkaline cleaners continue to have roles in your arsenal of coil cleaning products. The acid based Acti-Brite remains the cleaner of choice for removing corrosion by-products and scale build-up. Alkaline-based Alki-Foam is recommended to remove excess dirt, grease and grime.

How much foam do I need to clean the coil?

One of the interesting things that has come about in recent years is the push for cleaners with more and more foam generation. This begs the question “how much foam is really enough?” The idea to keep in mind is that you need enough foam to push out the quantity of dirt down in the coil. More foam does not necessarily mean that the unit is getting any cleaner. Clean is clean - anything more is too much. Before cleaning the condenser coil, the coil should be inspected to determine how dirty it really is. In the vast majority of cases, the coil just has a light coat of dirt and dust covering the surfaces and really just needs a light cleaning. Using super-high foaming cleaners straight out of the bottle is overkill. In most applications, a good coil cleaner such as Acti-Brite or Alki-Foam mixed to a dilution ratio of between 1:2 and 1:4 is usually adequate for most cleaning jobs. The reality is that most technicians love to see thick foam and tend to use the cleaners straight. We discourage this practice because it usually is not needed, can result in damage to the fin stock and results in unnecessary amounts of chemicals that are transferred into the ground. If inspection determines that a condenser coil is very dirty with grease or other difficult dirt, then a dilution ratio of 1:1 will usually result in a very thick foam and enough chemical to clean virtually any application. If the coil remains dirty after one application, then rinse it off and reapply at a 1:1 ratio.


Before cleaning a condenser coil, make sure to break power to the unit. Perform an inspection of the coil to determine how dirty it is. This should entail disassembly of the unit to the extent that if there are multiple rows of coils, you can inspect between the rows to determine the depth of dirt. On multiple row coils, it is not uncommon to have a quantity of dirt make it through the outside row of coils and block the inside row of coils. The unit may look clean from the outside, but airflow is blocked.

Cleaning: HVACR Tech Tip: How to Properly Clean a Condenser Coil - Condenser Coil Cleaning before and after - Parker Sporlan

If accumulations of dirt, dust, cottonwood or other contaminants is matted on the face of the coil, it is a good idea to use a coil brush similar to the one discussed in the evaporator coil section to quickly brush the condenser coil face. This will aid in the penetration of the coil cleaner and speed up the job considerably. After inspection, mix your coil cleaner in a low pressure sprayer to a ratio appropriate for the amount of dirt on the coil (1:1 to 1:2 for heavily soiled coils, 1:3 to 1:4 for light to medium soiled coils). It is recommended that due to the nature of these chemicals, chemical impervious gloves, goggles and apron are worn. Always make sure to put the water in the sprayer first, then add the appropriate amount of cleaner. Wet the coil with water first as this will aid penetration of the cleaner into the coils. Apply the cleaner to both the inlet and outlet side of the coil, saturating the coil with cleaner. Caution should be taken on windy days as condenser coil cleaners can etch glass and remove paint from vehicles, as well as cause harm to anyone standing downwind. Do not allow the cleaner to rest on other system components. Sprayers with foaming tips are not recommended as pre foaming the cleaner will hinder penetration into the coils. The foam generated is a chemical reaction with the aluminum, not from a spray tip.

Allow the cleaner to work for a maximum of five minutes. During this time, foam should form and dirt should be visibly carried out on the foam. Smoke or other vapors may be visible during this time which are a side effect of the chemical reaction and is not something to be concerned about. Begin rinsing the coil from the top down, taking care not to splash the cleaner on yourself or other surfaces as damage may occur. Continue to rinse the coil until no more foam is visible coming out the bottom of the condenser coil. Be sure to rinse all of the cleaner out of the coil as the cleaners may cause coil damage if left to dry on the coil. Rinse the surrounding area thoroughly with water, reassemble the unit and restore power to the condenser. Always be sure to rinse out the sprayer when finished as the chemicals may cause damage to all but the best sprayers over time.

For more information see Catalog G-1.


HVACR Tech Tip: Coil Cleaning Basics for the HVACR Service Technician - Chris Reeves, Product Manager Contamination Control Products, Parker Hannifin Sporlan Division Article contributed by Chris Reeves, product manager, Contaminant Control Products, Sporlan Division of Parker Hannifin






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HVACR Tech Tip: Coil Cleaning Basics for the HVACR Service Technician

HVACR Tech Tip: How to Clean Evaporator Coils for Preventive Maintenance 

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How to Clean an Evaporator Coil - technicians working on AC unit - Parker SporlanWhen it’s time to provide your customer's preventive maintenance don’t forget to pay particular attention to system components that are out of sight within the system cabinet or air handler enclosure. The unit’s evaporator coils are among the more important of these hidden components. Problems can develop with dirty evaporator coils as it can effect the system's performance and efficiency. This can also lead to damage and/or breakdowns. Here is some basic information on effectively cleaning evaporator coils.


Evaporator coils are probably the most difficult to clean. They are usually packed tightly inside a blower compartment that are usually difficult to service. They may be located over bathtubs, in tight dark closets, on rooftops in commercial applications, in a hot attic or a myriad of other places that are usually cramped, dark and uncomfortable. Due to these inconveniences, evaporator coils are often left alone and not cleaned until a system problem emerges. An evaporator coil should be inspected every six months and may need to be cleaned every six months to four years, depending on environment and filtration.

Virginia Acti-KleanCleaning:

Make sure to disconnect the power to the unit while cleaning the coil. This will prevent a potential electrical hazard. Disassemble the unit to the extent that both sides of the coil can be accessed. For applications that have matted hair and dirt on the intake side of the coil, it is important that they be carefully brushed clean. Failure to do so will severely limit the penetration of the coil cleaner and dramatically reduce its effectiveness. There are several disposable types of coil brushes available from different manufacturers that do a very good job of cleaning the surface dirt off while keeping your hands away from the filth and fins. One note of warning - the fins on a/c coils are very sharp and can cause severe cuts to skin. Be sure to avoid contact with the coil with your hands, arms, etc. It’s advisable to wear gloves, face mask and apron during this procedure since potential organisms growing on the coil and contact with lungs, skin, eyes or clothing may transmit disease. Once the surface dirt has been removed, a good evaporator coil cleaner, such as Acti-Klean should be mixed in a low pressure sprayer with water in a dilution ration of between 3:1 to 1:1, depending on the condition of the coil and the type of dirt encountered. Acti-Klean is a concentrated set of soaps and surfactants (wetting agents that help the cleaner penetrate the coil fully). The coil should then be sprayed liberally from both sides of the coil with the coil cleaner solution. This coil cleaner will not create the foam that condenser coil cleaners do, so don’t be shy applying the coil cleaner. Make sure that the liquid does not fall onto electrical components in the system. The cleaner will cut through grease and oils, as well as dislodge any dirt, dust and hair that may be trapped in the coil and rinses them down the condensate drain. An alternative option would be Virginia Coil Klean aerosol coil cleaner. This product will foam out dirt and dust and is certainly more convenient in the aerosol container, although it is more costly than cleaners like Acti-Klean. When the coil is clean, it is recommended that where possible the coil be rinsed off. This will aid in removing any remaining dirt from the coil. If this is not possible, then the condensate created by running the a/c system will rinse off any remaining cleaner. Depending on temperature and humidity conditions, the unit should run for between 15 minutes to 1 hour to ensure all cleaner is rinsed off the coil.


In recent years, indoor air quality receives a lot of attention. Often a case of “black mold” in some air conditioning system is reported in the news and the entire building must be evacuated and sanitized. It is a good idea after cleaning the coil that an EPA registered bacteriostat be used on the coil and surrounding ductwork and insulation to ensure that any minor growths and odors are eliminated. Doing so provides your customer a valuable service by ensuring that mold and other growths do not develop throughout the system. It is important the technician pays close attention to the volume of dirt and other growths coming off the coil. It is not uncommon for release dirt to block the opening of the condensate drain line and restrict the draining of water. If this is observed, the blockage should be removed before the drain pan overflows.

Drain Pan Treatment:

While cleaning the coil, it is a good time to clean the drain pan as well. Simply clean out any rust and deposits that may be sitting in the bottom of the pan with a towel, rag or other means. Once again, be careful not to rub your hand across the coil as the edges are quite sharp. Protective gloves are recommended.

For more information see Catalog G-1.

HVACR Tech Tip: Coil Cleaning Basics for the HVACR Service Technician - Chris Reeves, Product Manager Contamination Control Products, Parker Hannifin Sporlan Division Article contributed by Chris Reeves, product manager, Contaminant Control Products, Sporlan Division of Parker Hannifin

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HVACR Tech Tip: How to Clean Evaporator Coils for Preventive Maintenance

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