Cottonwood Seeds and the damage it can cause to your Air Conditioner Unit
Cottonwood Seeds and the damage it can cause to your Air Conditioner Unit
What are cottonwood seeds?
Cottonwood Tree - Spring Season
Cottonwood seeds are white and fluffy seeds that grow on cottonwood trees found in the eastern, central, and southwestern states of the US.
Cottonwood Seeds - Shedding Season
During the late spring to early summer season, cottonwood seeds fall and drift off the tree. These fluffy cotton like seeds can float in the air for many miles and blanket driveways, patios, lawns, gutters, and especially, air conditioning units. In some areas, the mass gathering of the fallen cottonwood seeds almost resemble snow.
Cottonwood Seeds - Shedding Season
How do cottonwood seeds affect your air conditioner unit?
Air Conditioner Unit
Air Conditioner Unit
During the shedding season, cottonwood seeds can rapidly accumulate on residential air conditioner units and commercial rooftop HVAC units. These light and fluffy seeds can eventually be sucked into ac condenser coils, compressors, air handlers, and other ac unit parts. This build up can lead to serious clogging issues and cause a massive restriction of airflow and loss of efficiency.
The standard exterior air conditioner condenser unit operates by pulling in air into the center part of the unit and then pushing it back out the top. In the case that a significant amount of cottonwood seeds are also being pulled into the condenser unit, the air flow is slowed down and blocks the heated air from being pushed out. Thus, resulting in the restriction of the cooling capacity and causing the ac condenser to work much harder and less energy efficient.

The long term impact of cottonwood seeds clogging an air conditioner unit can also cause other major HVAC mechanical issues and unnecessary expensive repair costs such as an over-heated compressor and complete system breakdown.
How to remove cottonwood seeds and clean your air conditioner?
Depending on the condition and type (residential or commercial) of your air conditioner unit, you can either complete some minor air conditioning preventive maintenance or schedule commercial HVAC service and repair.

If you have a residential air conditioner unit, simple maintenance and removal of cottonwood seeds can done by following the below steps:

  • Locate your exterior Air Conditioner Unit and Shut Off Power
  • Find the AC breaker outside switch, usually located under a flip-up lid near the condenser unit
  • Open lid and turn the switch to off.
  • Use garden hose (not power washer) and sprayer attachment
  • Spray water lightly, at a slight angle (top to bottom), across exterior (sides) condenser coils and on top across fan blades. Make sure that debris and cottonwood are falling away from the unit.
  • Let unit dry and turn AC breaker switch back to On
  • Run unit and check system performance
  • If system isn’t running efficient, we recommend that you contact a local certified HVAC repair specialist

For commercial air conditioning units, and rooftop ac units, we recommend you contact a professional HVAC service maintenance and repair company.

ICC Mechanical Services offers maintenance plans that can save energy, extend equipment life, and prevent costly breakdowns.

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