How To Clean An Air Conditioner

There’s nothing perfectly as comforting as staying in a cool, cozy home on a sweltering summer day. But in order to keep a working air conditioning system, you’ll need to ensure it’s kept clean.

Most air conditioning concerns arise from the accumulation of dirt and debris within your unit’s system. Dirt can impede airflow, forcing your air conditioner to overexert and use more energy which is why it’s crucial for homeowners to maintain their HVAC system.

It’s recommended that an air conditioner be cleaned once every year to keep running suitably. It’s best to leave this task to an experienced HVAC technician.

Clean or Replace Air Conditioning Filters

Whether you have a window AC unit or a centralized one, start cleaning your air conditioner by washing or changing your air filters. Your air conditioning system either holds washable or disposable filters found in the air-handler cabinets inside or near the end of the air-inlet side, or in the furnace. You can wash the air filter under running water. Let it dry completely before reattaching it.

To maintain good airflow, it’s necessary to wash or replace your air filters every six months or when they become congested with dirt, hair, or fine particles.

Steps To Cleaning An Air Conditioning Indoor Unit

It’s important to know why you should regularly clean and maintain the indoor or outdoor part of your AC unit, however, don’t attempt to clean it yourself unless you’re absolutely sure how to handle the unit. Otherwise, these are the steps an HVAC technician will follow to get your AC running smoothly again.

Turn off the power to the air conditioning unit

Air conditioners comprise various moving components, and since safety is vital, you must first switch off the power. After the appliance is turned off, ensure you don’t see bubbles coming from the refrigerant lines, hear any hissing sound, feel weak or warm air, or see any frozen coils.

Dismantle blower unit

Once you’ve powered off your AC, remove the panel on your blower unit to see the evaporator coils. Depending on your unit type, you may need to remove the foil duct tape.

Clean evaporator coils

AC coils shift the hot and cold air but they can become clogged after some time. Remove dirt from the air conditioner coils with a soft brush, then apply slightly soapy water (mild detergent and water) or a commercial cleaner using a spray bottle. Avoid bending the thin fins or coils. You can straighten the cooling fins with a fin comb if you bend them.

After a few minutes of sitting time, soak a clean cloth and wipe away the loose material. After you have sanitized the outside, vacuum the coils from the inside.

If you have A-frame evaporator coils, they may have parts you can’t reach as the coils are encompassed on both ends. If you haven’t washed your evaporator coil for some time, you will have to request the help of HVAC services to have them thoroughly cleaned.

Clean the AC drain pan

As soon as the coil cleaner has finished its job, clean out the drain pan. You can clean the drain pan using warm water and soap, distilled vinegar, or a general cleaning solution. Pour the solution down the drain to make sure it’s clear. You can even buy AC drain pan tablets at your local hardware or home improvement store to prevent mold and algae from growing.

If the solution took time to move down the drain, this problem might be due to a blockage.

To remove a clog, locate the drain line and bring a wet or dry vacuum cleaner. Connect the vacuum hose to the end of the drain tub and use duct tape for a more secured seal. Let it run for about two or three minutes to eliminate excess contaminants before switching it off.

Clean up remnants from inside

Carefully dust the interior of your indoor air conditioner unit with a feather duster. Any stubborn grime you find can be cleared with a clean damp cloth. Wrap it up by wiping the front panel and remaining surface before reattaching it.

Close the AC access panel

Attach the access panel using the same bolts or screws you removed from the start of the process. If you have HVAC metal foil tape, use it to seal the top and bottom of the panel. Don’t hide the manufacturer’s label as a technician may have it to conduct maintenance or fix the unit.

Steps To Cleaning An Outdoor Air Conditioning Unit

Clear dust from the fins and fan blades

The condenser fins can get filthy if not cleaned regularly. Take a look at the unit and see if there is any grime, grass clippings, or other scraps blocking the exterior fins. Pull off any leaves or other debris by hand if possible

To clear fine particles from the fan blades and fins, you will need to unscrew and detach the outer panel of the AC. The fan unit is located atop the compressor and is usually protected by a grill.

Once you’ve detached the panel, use a soft hand brush to lightly remove debris and dust from the fins. Don’t use too much pressure since this may warp the cooling fins. Similarly, knock off particles from the fan blades and clear out remnants piled at the bottom.

If you cannot remove the top grill and fan, be cautious not to spray directly with water when washing the fins.

Clean the AC condenser coils

You can efficiently sanitize the exterior condenser unit in a central air conditioner before calling a professional to check the rest of the components.

You will need a coil cleaner which is available at any home improvement store. Careful when using a cleaner for condenser coils as it’s highly acidic and can cause skin corrosion – you’ll want to wear gloves to protect your skin.

First, use a hose to spray the air conditioner from the inside outward so that any dirt gets shoved from the coils. Next, spray an ample amount of foaming coil cleaner onto the coils in a back and forth motion. It will foam up in a couple of minutes. Then, let sit for five to 10 minutes to creep into more grime build-up.

Rinse the area you just sprayed, angling downwards. After you have rinsed it off thoroughly, give it time to dry.

Usually, some fins on the condenser can become crooked with normal wear. If you see that some of the fins are twisted or have been bent, you can use a fin comb to bend them back gently. Apply mild, even pressure to straighten the fins into position.

Clean around and adjust the AC unit

After cleaning the air conditioner, apply a few drops of lightweight oil into the ports if the fan motor has oil ports. Then place the top grill back into the unit and screw the bolts back in place. Remove any fencing or obstructions blocking the airflow and give it a wide berth of two feet in every direction.

Make sure your unit is levelled—grime and other remains may get beneath your system, causing imbalance. Now, all you have to do is turn the power back on.

Call An HVAC Specialist To Clean Your Unit

For lasting comfort, your AC must remain clean throughout the year. Rather than addressing the cleanup yourself, you can resort to trustworthy, professional services. A professional technician will locate and repair problems in your air conditioning unit and ensure it’s back up and running in no time.

PolComfort Heating & Cooling is known for reliable, fast, and accessible air conditioning service throughout Ontario. Don’t hesitate to contact us to prevent your air conditioner from becoming dirty and keep it energy efficient. Call us now!