Cleaning your air conditioner is easy.

19 May, 2020

How to Clean an Air Conditioners in 10 Easy Steps

Air conditioners work more efficiently when the evaporator and condenser coils (or cooling fins) are clean and the fins are straight. After all, a simple cleaning is all it takes to keep your air conditioner humming.

Want to keep your house cool and comfortable? Trying to figure out how to clean an AC without spending tons of money? You may be thinking about cleaning the AC unit yourself.

In this blog, you’ll learn how to clean an air conditioner to maintain efficiency in the long run. We’ll also share a step-by-step guide for cleaning AC coils, outside units, and more.

Issues Caused by a Dirty Unit

Imagine this: It’s a scorching summer day and you are wrapped in a thick woolen blanket that prevents heat in your body from escaping, causing your body to overheat.

How does that feel? Awful, right? That’s exactly what happens when your outdoor unit is dirty.

The compressor and condenser of your AC are positioned in the external unit. Just like the radiator in an automobile, the condenser fins help the system disperse heat more efficiently.

Once the heat is dissipated from the internal air via the refrigeration cycle, hot refrigerant is transmitted to the outside AC unit, which releases the heat absorbed by the refrigerant.

A condenser fan helps blow air over the external coils to discharge heat into the external air. However, if the external unit is blocked and airflow obstructed, it will take a lot longer for the refrigerant to discharge the heat. Just like how your body couldn’t discharge the heat if it were covered in a woolen blanket.

As a result, it’ll take much longer for the air conditioner to cool your home, and you’ll be wasting energy and spending more money. Improper airflow around the outdoor condenser coils can overheat your AC, eventually breaking it down. 

Tools & Materials Needed to Clean an AC

Cleaning your air conditioner is easy and economical. All you need is air conditioner cleaner, a vacuum cleaner with soft-brush attachment, a water hose with a sprayer, work clothes, gloves, and eye protection. Make sure the AC cleaner you choose is recommended by the AC manufacturer.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner

1. Turn off power to the unit

Before you start working, it’s crucial to completely switch off power to the unit. 

2. Remove rubble

Remove the fan cage on the external unit and clean leaves and other debris by hand or a vacuum.

3. Clean the fins

Remove the external covers. Using the brush attachment on a powerful shop vacuum, remove all dirt. Next, use a garden hose to gently clean the fins from the inside out. You can also use a fin cleaning spray.

4. Unbend the fins

Now gently straighten the bent fins using a butter knife or commercially available fin-straightening tool.

5. Clean area around the unit

After cleaning, put the fan cage back. Make sure there are no plants within at least 2 feet in all directions of the unit. This will help ensure proper airflow around the unit.

6. Level the unit

As soil settles beneath the pad on which the condenser unit is placed, it starts to tip, causing the compressor enclosed to fail early. Check the condenser for level and use corrosion-resistant shims to bring it back to level.

7. Clean the evaporator coil

You’ll find the evaporator coil door within the indoor furnace unit. Unfasten it and use a soft brush to dust off the coil. Next, spray the coil with a no-rinse coil cleaner, which will foam up and drip into the drain pan. Clean the drain pan with a mixture of soap, hot water, and a little bleach.

8. Clean a clogged evaporator drain

If the evaporator drain is clogged, use a wet/dry vacuum to clear it. It’s recommended to remove the paper filter from the wet/dry vacuum to avoid ruining the filter.

9. Change the blower filter

You need to change the blower filter at least twice a year, before the start of heating and cooling seasons. Make sure the new filter has the same airflow rating.

10. Switch on the power

Once the AC is cleaned, you can turn the power back on.

Keep Your AC Energy Efficient

Although these steps on how to clean AC units will help you maintain your system in top shape, keep in mind that there are maintenance items that only a qualified HVAC technician can handle. They are well-equipped with all the tools and tricks for cleaning central air units.

For instance, a slow refrigerant leak in your air conditioner can result in costly compressor failure. As a homeowner, you may not have the tools or skills needed to check refrigerant levels, clean ducts, or ensure proper airflow. So, while you can do some basic AC maintenance, you still need to have a professional technician check the system periodically. 

Cleaning your air conditioner can be tricky if you don’t know your way around your unit model. Our expert technicians are highly trained and experienced in servicing air conditioners. Call us today to book our Fargo air conditioning services, or send us a message via our contact form to learn more.