Your air conditioning unit plays an instrumental part in turning your house into a comfortable home where you can rest and relax. Maintained properly, a good air conditioning unit will keep you cool through hot, sweltering summers for many years to come. Over time, however, you might notice that the unit is working harder to achieve the same level of cooling it once gave easily when it was still new.
As with older machines, this might mean that your unit is malfunctioning or needs some repairs. Most times, however, all it might need is a good old-fashioned cleaning. A critical part of any machine maintenance, cleaning your air conditioning unit will keep your system healthier for longer, extending its lifespan and saving you money on costly repairs or replacements. Additionally, dirty or improperly operating air conditioning systems might lead to the growth of microorganisms such as mold, which is the last thing you want in a machine that keeps the air around you cool and fresh.
That said, cleaning your unit can be tricky, especially if you’re primarily inexperienced with machines. In such cases, hiring one of our expert technicians here at Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing will save you both time and headache. But if you’re confident enough in your skills, then these instructions will help you clean your air conditioner for better and longer-lasting performance.
A Quick Overview of Your AC Unit’s Coils
Before you get to work cleaning your air conditioning unit, understanding how the system works will help you. Typical air conditioners have both an indoor and outdoor component, and each contains a different type of coil that requires cleaning.
On your unit’s interior portion, you will find evaporator coils. Usually made of copper, these coils contain coolant and conduct heat easily. These coils absorb heat as the refrigerant evaporates and becomes gas. From there, the heat gets transferred to the outside unit, where it will pass through the compressor and into the condenser coil. The refrigerant then returns to liquid form via the compressor, and the condenser coil releases heat into the air via an exhaust fan.
To completely clean your air conditioning unit, you need to work on both the indoor and outdoor components.
How to Clean the Interior of Your Air Conditioning Unit
- Turn off the power: Because air conditioner units use electricity and have many moving parts, it’s paramount that you turn it off before working on it. Make sure you turn it off at the breaker as well.
- Open up the unit: Usually, AC units have a door in the blower that opens into the evaporator coil. However, some models require the removal of the foil duct tape. Either way, the door should open after unscrewing a few bolts or screws. Remember to keep them in a safe place so they don’t get lost while you are cleaning the unit.
- Clean the evaporator coils: Remove dust from the coil by using a soft brush. If it has been a while since the unit’s last clean-up, this dust will usually contain air particles found in your home. Wear a mask.
- Use a coil cleaner: If you can find it, a coil cleaner will be super handy in this scenario. The no-rinse solution should foam up and then take the dirt and dust with it as it dissolves grime and drips it into the unit’s drain pan. Please make sure you spray it evenly, including in small areas where your hand can’t fit.
- Clean the drain pan: To start, use soap and water, and then add some bleach for sanitizing. Use a 50/50 solution of these and pour it down the drain until it’s clear.
- Clear the air conditioner drain: If your soap and bleach solution washes down easily, skip this step. However, if it doesn’t, take a good two to three minutes to vacuum the end of your AC’s drain tube.
- Close the access panel: Once you’re done, screw the door back into place, and you’re finished.
How to Clean the Exterior of Your Air Conditioning Unit
- Disconnect and remove the frille – After making sure the power is off, take out the sheet metal screws on top of the unit. Then, lift the fan and grille.
- Remove debris: The amount of debris in the bottom of your air conditioner depends on your unit; more expensive ones usually have guards in place to stop particles from coming through the top. Either way, scoop the debris out by hand or towel.
- Clean the coils and fins: Next, use a coil cleaning solution available at any home improvement store. Taking care not to burn yourself, mix up the solution per the directions and pour it into a pump sprayer. Spray it evenly onto the coils, and wait for it to foam up.
- Straighten your unit’s fins: To maintain your unit’s efficiency, make sure you straighten any bent fins. If you can, do so with a fin tool, which is primarily inexpensive and can be used to comb the fins back into place.
- Clean around the unit: Replace the fan cage and then affix it with the same screws from before. Then, clean the area around the unit for optimal airflow. Do not place anything that could obstruct the airflow within a 2-foot radius of the unit.
- Level your AC unit: Did you know that dirt accumulated underneath your unit can cause tipping? This results in an out-of-level condenser, which can cause failure and costly repairs. If this is the case, use shims to get your unit level once more.
How to Clean the Filters
Another crucial step in air conditioner maintenance is cleaning the filter. First, however, check the manual to see if your air conditioning filter can be replaced or cleaned. If it’s the latter, then these steps should help you:
- Vacuum the filter: For regular maintenance, vacuuming the filter should help. However, use an attachment without a brush as it may damage the filter. Run the nozzle up and down gently, and avoid pushing too hard on the filter.
- Soak the filter: Take a large container (or your bathtub) and fill it with room-temperature water. Next, add a bit of detergent and wait for it to foam up. Then, soak the filter thoroughly and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Afterward, hose it down to remove dirt and debris.
- Spray the filter: To keep it sanitized, spray your filter with a one-to-one vinegar solution and water. Afterward, rinse it once more under running water.
- Dry the filter: Lastly, dry your filter. This usually takes several hours, but you can place newspaper underneath if you want to aid it. After about three hours, you should be ready to put it back into your unit.
In addition to the money you can save by cleaning your air conditioning unit, doing so should also help extend its lifespan and keep it going strong.
Contact Our Top-Rated, Dependable Technicians
If your air conditioning unit needs professional cleaning, maintenance, or repairs, give Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing a call today. Located in Tucson, AZ, and boasting an A+ rating, we specialize in quality AC, heating, cooling, and plumbing services.