Step-By-Step Guide: How to Clean an Air Conditioner
Summer has officially arrived. Everyone is spending time outside with friends and family. The trees are full and summer flowers are blooming. While the outdoor temperatures may be pleasant, you may begin to notice high humidity levels in your home that your fan cannot remove. It’s finally time to turn on your air conditioner.
But upon doing so, your air conditioning does not work. Talk about perfect timing. You may be wondering: How is my air conditioner not working? I haven’t touched it since last summer. That’s exactly the problem. Up until this time, your air conditioner has been sitting around idly, collecting dust, dirt, and debris which over time can damage your system. In truth, your air conditioner needs proper maintenance, even when it is not being utilized, to ensure it’s ready for the warm summer months. To avoid sitting around on a hot summer day, waiting for a technician to repair your air conditioning system, cleaning your unit is the best solution. How might you go about cleaning your air conditioner? We’ve created a step-by-step guide on cleaning your system to help you prepare for summer.
Process of Cleaning An Air Conditioner
Step 1) Deactivate the Power Supply
Before you can begin cleaning your air conditioner, please remember to turn off the power to your system. Cleaning an air conditioning system as it runs is hazardous, and should be avoided. To turn off the power, locate the service panel on the exterior condenser or compressor. This is typically a shut-off box near the unit. If you are having trouble finding the service box, we recommend deactivating the system at your breaker box.
Step 2) Clean or Replace Air Conditioning Filters
The easiest and most important step begins with cleaning or replacing your air filters. Your air conditioning system either has replaceable or reusable filters located in the furnace or air-handler cabinets that are inside or near the end of the air-inlet side. To maintain proper air flow, it’s important to sanitize or replace your air filters twice a year or when they become clogged with dirt, hair, or dust.
Step 3) Clean the AC Condenser Coils
To clean the air conditioner coils, remove the side and tops panels, also known as the protective grilles, from the condenser unit. This can be done by using a screwdriver or a nut driver—whichever type of fastener is required. Simply unscrew the side panels and pull them away from the unit. Lift off the top, which may be heavy, and avoid tugging at any wires attached to the fan.
Next, use a soft brush or a refrigerator coil brush to gently clean the AC coils from the outside of the unit. Please be very careful when cleaning the coils. Avoid bending the delicate fins or coils. If you do bend the fins, you can straighten them with a “fin comb.” Once you have cleaned the outside, vacuum the AC condenser coils from the inside.
To remove stubborn dirt and debris from the condenser coils, you can spray on a commercial air conditioning coil cleaner from the inside. Please be careful not to spray the fan or other electrical components. You can also use a hose with a trigger-style nozzle to blast dirt out of the coils from inside the unit. Make sure to not bend the fins, flood the unit, or spray water on electrical components; Cover these components with a plastic garbage bag.
Step 4) Clean and Clear Debris from Condenser
Remove leaves and debris that may clutter the base of the condenser. If the air conditioning condenser has a drain, be sure to rid that of any substances as well.
For the blower’s fan blades, use a vacuum and a rag to thoroughly clean it. Next, fasten any loose mounting bolts. Apply a few drops of lightweight oil or spray WD-40 into the ports if the fan motor has oil ports. Mop up any excess water inside the unit. Once you have finished cleaning the air conditioner, reassemble the condenser. Remove any weeds, twigs, or vines that may hinder airflow through the condenser unit.
Step 5) Check the Refrigerant Lines
Refrigerant lines are typically covered with foam insulation to prevent them from losing energy. These refrigerant tubes travel from the evaporator coil on the air handler to the condenser that is located outside your house.
If the insulation on the refrigerant lines is damaged, replace it to enhance the efficiency of your air conditioning system. The first way to fix this issue is to purchase and install a foam insulation sleeve for the refrigerant lines. You may also choose to wrap the refrigerant lines with insulation tape.
Step 6) Test the Air Conditioning Unit
After you are finished with cleaning the central air conditioner, activate the power to the condenser. You can do this by first switching the thermostat in your home to off. Then turn on the power at both the disconnect box and at the main panel. Lastly, adjust the thermostat to the cooling mode to activate your air conditioning system.
Maintaining your air conditioner can extend its lifespan, and save you major money in the long run. To take it a step further, when the fall and winter season arrives, cover your air conditioner with plastic and use a rope or bungee cords to secure it. If your air conditioning is still not working properly after cleaning your unit, contact a professional technician right away.
Air Conditioning Repair & Install Services in Virginia
To help keep your air conditioning in pristine condition, the technicians at Snell Heating & Air Conditioning will come to your home and perform routine maintenance. Our team of certified HVAC technicians offer air conditioning repair, installation, and tune-up services to residents in Virginia. We provide heating and cooling services in areas of Virginia such as Reston, Alexandria, Arlington, and Centreville. Give our team a call by phone at (703) 543-9649 or book an appointment online to receive assistance. You can count on our trusted team to provide you with top-notch air conditioning repair services.