How Cottonwood Can Ruin Your Air Conditioner

cottonwood trees can ruin air conditioners by clogging the condenser with shed cotton

Cottonwood is bad news for your air conditioner

There is a lot to love about spring, but for those with seasonal allergies the return of pollen and other airborne allergens produced by blooming flowers and trees is one thing to be less enthusiastic about. While those with allergies can help keep them under control with air purifiers and other indoor air quality products, it doesn’t make them any less irritating.

But, did you know that people aren’t the only ones who have to deal with issues caused from plant seeds? Many plants produce pollen, seeds, and other materials that can wreak havoc on your air conditioning system. One of the biggest culprits of this is cottonwood trees.

So, what are cottonwood trees and how can a simple tree cause you and your air conditioner so many problems? Here is everything you need to know about these air conditioner clogging trees and how you can keep them from causing serious damage to your air conditioner this spring. 

What are cottonwood trees?

Cottonwood trees are a common tree that grows across the United States, usually around bodies of waters like rivers, ponds, and lakes. With broad, wide trunks and green foliage, they don’t necessarily jump out in a crowd amongst other trees, but they do have one defining feature that makes them easily recognizable: the cotton from which they get their name.

When they bloom, their branches produce large amounts of a cotton-like material that contains cottonwood tree seeds. During spring, cottonwood trees shed their cotton which can get caught by the breeze and can be carried great distances. When cottonwood seeds begin to fall in fields and on water, it can almost look like fresh snowfall.

While cottonwood trees are usually kept away from residential areas, winds will often carry their cotton to your home anyway, filling up your yard, flower beds, and gutters. If you live in a wooded area, there is a good chance there are one or two in the forest right outside your door.   

This is where your air conditioners come into play. 

What does cottonwood seeds do to air conditioners?

So, how is the cotton shed by cottonwood trees harmful to an air conditioner? A machine can’t have allergies, after all. While your air conditioner may not have allergies it still needs to be able to breathe, and cottonwood can prevent it from doing that.

As the cotton collects around your house, one common place it will begin to get stuck and accumulate is your condenser, the outdoor unit of your air conditioner. Normally, the condenser sucks in warm air from the outdoors, passing it over a series of coils that use refrigerant to cool (or “condition”) the warm air before circulating the now cool air indoors. 

When there are high amounts of cottonwood cotton in the air, it can get sucked in with the air, latching on the condenser’s coils and sticking and covering the intake. All of these are bad news for your air conditioner. 

Cotton covering the intake prevents your air conditioner from collecting air, forcing it to overwork itself to suck in air. Cotton covering the condenser coils inhibits the conditioning process, plummeting the efficiency of your air conditioner when attempting to cool and distribute air.

If cotton is left collecting in your condenser it will cause the components inside to wear out faster due to being overworked and eventually fail, requiring expensive repairs to your condenser or even a total replacement. The overworking condenser and the lower efficiency are also likely to steadily increase your energy bills over time as well. 

To avoid costly repairs and higher bills, it is important to keep your air conditioner clean and clear of cottonwood.

How do you clean cottonwood out of an air conditioner?

The best way to keep cottonwood cotton under control and prevent it from causing extensive damage to your air conditioner during the spring and summer months is through regular cleaning and maintenance. 

Trying to clean cottonwood out of your air conditioner yourself is not recommended because you risk lodging the cotton deeper into your air conditioner or causing harm to the coil or other components. No, cleaning your air conditioner is a job for the professionals!

A professional heating and cooling company has the tools and knowledge to easily access the inside of your air conditioner condenser and safely clean it’s components of cottonwood, dirt, and other debris. Having your air conditioner cleaned at least once a year during seasonal system inspections will keep them from causing damage and decreasing efficiency, avoiding costly repairs as a result. If you live close to cottonwood trees, you might even consider multiple cleanings a year.

Cottonwood trees are a common heating and cooling problem here in Indiana, and Hoosier Indoor Air has years of experience quickly and safely cleaning air conditioners of the cotton they shed during the spring. 

If you want to keep cottonwood trees from harming your air conditioner, call us today at 317-466-7437 to schedule an appointment, or become a member of our Comfort Guard service agreement to skip the growing lines for seasonal system inspections and maintenance.

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