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View Full Version : A/C coil cleaner - Hazmat level???



Highpower
04-16-2012, 09:27 AM
I got a call from McMaster-Carr this morning regarding an order I placed on-line. One of the items I ordered was a gallon of coil cleaner for air conditioning units. The sales rep informed me that they could not ship this "extremely hazardous" material to a residence. :confused:

Ok.... it's an acid based cleaner - I know that. Just how concentrated is this stuff considering all the drama I got on the phone?

I can always have it delivered to a local business address, but I'm wondering if I really want to be storing the unused portion at home now if it's going to fall under the "China Syndrome". :rolleyes:

vincemulhollon
04-16-2012, 01:18 PM
Ok.... it's an acid based cleaner - I know that. Just how concentrated is this stuff considering all the drama I got on the phone?

I can always have it delivered to a local business address, but I'm wondering if I really want to be storing the unused portion at home now if it's going to fall under the "China Syndrome". :rolleyes:

This is almost the definition of why MSDS exist... I can only answer generally as an ex-chemist, so why bother. The real answer is on the MSDS.

An acid based cleaner, interesting. Everything I've seen for AC cleaner is either alkaline or detergent. Sure about that?

Alkaline spray cans aka "non-acid cleaner" are basically relabeled kitchen oven spray cleaner and should be treated that way unless the MSDS says otherwise of course. They eat cig smoke, and airborne grease, and clothing, and flesh, and eyes, and corrode your evaporator coil if not properly flushed away. Basically they saponify fats and the soap washes away. The reaction with aluminum is more interesting, where it basically eats the protective oxide layer as fast as it can form by creating soluble aluminum hydroxide. Steel is more or less alkaline stable, so rest assured it'll dissolve your coil long before it has any effect on your ductwork.

The detergent cans are cheaper at home depot and are mostly harmless and work almost as well, again the MSDS will tell you what to do / what to worry about.

Highpower
04-16-2012, 03:10 PM
This is almost the definition of why MSDS exist... I can only answer generally as an ex-chemist, so why bother. The real answer is on the MSDS.

An acid based cleaner, interesting. Everything I've seen for AC cleaner is either alkaline or detergent. Sure about that?
Yes I'm sure. Outside condenser coil cleaner.


Hydrofluoric Acid (CAS# 7664-39-3)
Phosphoric Acid (CAS# 7664-38-2)

My concern is about possible fumes eating away at anything stored near by the container. I can keep it in an outdoor storage shed, but I don't want it melting my lawnmower.... :rolleyes:

Turns out it was cheaper buying it over the counter at the local Grainger anyway. That was a shock. :D

vincemulhollon
04-16-2012, 05:04 PM
<quote>Hydrofluoric Acid (CAS# 7664-39-3)
Phosphoric Acid (CAS# 7664-38-2)</quote>

Phosphoric acid, don't worry, its literally in your diet coke. It dissolves rust pretty well (see naval jelly)

HF, worry about that. Do not get on skin, do not breathe fumes. There really is no "safe" level. Really nasty stuff. Essentially it bonds to your bones and dissolves them. Also the burns are quite painful. It'll etch ceramic, heck darn near everything, including some plastics.

The phone rep giving you a hard time was certainly giving you a hard time about the HF.

Black_Moons
04-16-2012, 07:09 PM
Yea, I would recommend getting a 'Not so industrial' cleaner that does not have the HF acid. The only time I have heard of HF acid is when someone tells me some horror story after I tell them some lesser horror story about sulfuric acid or similar.

tlfamm
04-16-2012, 07:44 PM
When I was a teenager my father told me the story of someone who was "fooling around" with hydrofluoric acid. That person put a drop on the end of a pencil, and then somehow got the drop onto his finger. As a result, the tip of the finger had to be amputated.

My father was a chemical engineer involved in the large-scale production of sulphuric acid (by the shipload, or railcar load). In it's heyday, his place of work was the largest sulfuric-acid plant in the world.

Black_Moons
04-16-2012, 08:00 PM
When I was a teenager my father told me the story of someone who was "fooling around" with hydrofluoric acid. That person put a drop on the end of a pencil, and then somehow got the drop onto his finger. As a result, the tip of the finger had to be amputated.

My father was a chemical engineer involved in the large-scale production of sulphuric acid (by the shipload, or railcar load). In it's heyday, his place of work was the largest sulfuric-acid plant in the world.

^-- Just goes to prove my previous post!