Learn how to clean your air conditioning unit by yourself
Whether your AC unit has been sitting around collecting dust all winter long, you’ve been away from home for an extended period, or it simply needs a good cleaning, the good news is you can tackle this project all on your own!
Learn how to clean your air conditioning system so that it runs in tip-top shape, keeping you cool and extending its life through proper maintenance. If you’d rather a professional give your cooling system a tune-up give Richmond’s Air a call today.
Why is it important to clean your air conditioner regularly?
Many people make the mistake of believing that cleaning their air conditioner is an unnecessary task. However, they find out the hard way they were wrong upon seeing their power bill or when their AC unit suddenly stops working.
There are many good reasons why you need to clean your air conditioner regularly. Here are 3:
1. Performance and efficiency
Getting rid of all the dust and debris built up around your unit allows your AC to perform more efficiently, putting less strain on the system. Dirt could jam moving parts of your AC like valves and fan motors.
In fact, if your evaporator coil is covered in dust, it will impair its ability to absorb heat, reducing efficiency and the ability to cool your home. Moreover, a clogged air filter reduces airflow which causes your unit to work harder or stop working entirely.
2. Indoor air quality
Your air conditioner helps keep your home cool by releasing cool air that circulates inside the room. Filters are designed to catch pollen, dust and bacteria-containing pollutants so they aren’t emitted into the air for you to breathe in.
If the filter in your unit is clogged, it can be a breeding ground for fungi, mold, germs and bacteria to thrive. Thus, turning on the unit could release these particles and contaminants into the air, exposing you to a variety of dangers like respiratory infections and asthma attacks.
3. Costly power bills and price of repairs
Cooling devices can take a lot of power to run and constitute a high portion of your power bills. When your AC unit is forced to work harder, it may also consume 5 to 10 percent more power, causing your electric bill to skyrocket.
Also, if the evaporator coils are unable to dissipate heat effectively, you risk overheating, ice buildups and eventually your unit shutting down. This can be quite costly to repair or, in the worst-case scenario, require a completely new unit.
This can all be avoided just by taking out the time to clean your unit. But how you’ll go about cleaning your AC will depend on which type of system you have.
How to clean a window air conditioner
Start by removing the plastic trim panel/filter holder that snaps off or slides out from the wall. Note: this piece can be very heavy, so you might need help.
For a window unit, the frame and case will have to be removed. To do this, take the screws out (usually at the bottom) while noting which screw goes where, as they may be different sizes and will have to be screwed back in when done.
Next, you will need a fine comb to straighten the cooling fins that are bent and a pair of leather gloves to avoid cutting your fingers. These special combs can be purchased online for a few dollars. Be sure to match the right end of the AC fin comb to the fin coils, insert the fin comb and pull it up to straighten out the fins.
The next step is to vacuum all the buildups found in both coils and then use an AC coil cleaner to finish the job. Spray the coil cleaner over both coils and the entire surface, then allow the foam to work its magic. You can use a nylon-bristle brush to brush the fins if the buildup is heavy.
Using a rag and a household cleaner, wipe down the fan blades. If your AC unit has rubber or plastic capped oiling ports, pop them off, add a few drops of motor oil and then replace the caps.
Finally, either replace the filters or wash them before putting everything back together and turning it on. You should notice the air blowing cooler and more powerful than before.
How to clean an outside AC unit
Start by turning off the thermostat, then disconnect the electrical source. This is usually found inside a metal electric box that’s located near the unit and placed on an exterior wall. Open the box and look for the switch that will turn the air conditioner off. This could be a circuit breaker shutoff where you simply flip the breaker to the off position or a pullout switch where you pull the plug out.
Make sure you are wearing gloves, as you will need to remove any debris found around the unit. With a soft brush vacuum attachment, carefully vacuum the condenser fins, being extra careful not to bend them. Next, use a water hose to spray off any loose debris like leaves and grass. When done, spray the outside of your unit with a coil cleaner. Let the foam sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow it to bond with the dirt around the coils, then rinse it off with a hose.
Doing this each year—once in the spring and then again after use in the summer—can help keep your AC unit working better.