Coil Cleaning: Sell it, or Systems Die!

July 1, 2009
Many technicians make the mistake of quoting cleaning customers' coils as an option. That's why they get a lot of turn-downs. But there's more at stake

Many technicians make the mistake of quoting cleaning customers' coils as an option. That's why they get a lot of turn-downs. But there's more at stake here than just a clean piece of equipment: clean coils are essential for proper equipment operation. Plus, when you get customers' approval to clean up their coil, it's a hop, skip and a jump to getting those customers happily involved in service agreements.

When you find dirty indoor coils, you should also give customers the opportunity to acquire a UV light and upgrade their filtration system to prevent the damage to their equipment (and expense) that dirty indoor coils cause.

It doesn't do anyone any good to replace a mechanical component on a non-working air conditioner and leave a partially blocked outdoor and/or indoor coil dirty. So, stop quoting the cleaning as an option. It's not optional.

Here's What to Say

Always talk about a problem in front of the problem. Say, “Mr(s). (customer's name), you might want to take a look at this,” and then lead them out to their condensing unit.

“This is a radiator coil, just like the one in your car. As you can see, it's partially blocked. You know what the primary cause of compressor failure is? A blocked coil.”

When there's also a dirty indoor coil, say, “You've got another radiator coil inside. Let's go take a look at it.”

You should have already pulled the blower. Dirty blowers and dirty indoor coils go hand-in-hand. When they see the dirty blower, they're going to want it cleaned.

Say, “I'll have to take this outside, disassemble it, wash it with a special chemical, rinse it off with a hose, reassemble it, and re-install it. I'll show it to when I'm done, and you'll see that it will look practically brand new.

“Do you know what the problem is with blocked coils? I can explain it by explaining how air conditioning works. Many people think that an air conditioner makes cold air. It doesn't exactly ‘make’ cold air. What it does is remove heat from your home.

“The coil inside your home absorbs heat as the fan blows air across it. The heat moves through these two little copper pipes out to this radiator coil outside. The fan out there blows air across the radiator coil outside and blows the heat from inside your home to the outdoors.

“The problem is, compressors cool themselves through the refrigeration process. Even on the hottest day of the year, when the coils are completely clean, there's no air blockage of any sort, the refrigerant is at the proper level, and your compressor is operating properly, you can put your hand on it and it will feel cool to the touch. Sometimes there's even condensation on it, because it's so much cooler than the outside air.

“If you put your hand on your compressor now, you'd get a bad burn that would result in a blister. You're overheating your compressor for hours every day in the heat of the summer. You're damaging it every time your air conditioner kicks on. It's only a matter of time before it's going to burn out on you.

Automobile Analogy

“Running your air conditioner with blocked coils is like slipping a piece of cardboard in front of the radiator of your car and driving around in the heat of the summer. You wouldn't do that, would you?

“Why not? Because you'd burn up your engine. And you can buy a new engine for just about any car for a lot less money than what you'd spend for a new air conditioner.

“Do you understand now why I say that, one way or another, you're paying to keep your equipment clean? So, you want me to clean it up for you?”

Remember, your customers don't know air conditioning; you do. Educate them about how their systems work, and what they need to do to keep them working well, and they'll buy from you.

Charlie Greer is the Tom McCart HVAC Consultant of the Year, which was awarded by Contracting Business magazine and the Service Roundtable. He's also the creator of “Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD,” and “Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD.” Charlie provides telephone consultation to all HVAC contractors at no charge. If you have questions on salesmanship, service agreements, pricing or personnel issues, call Charlie at 800/963-HVAC (4822) or e-mail him at [email protected]. Visit him on the web at