How To Clean Air Conditioning Unit
If you’re like most homeowners, you have a centralized home air conditioning system that keeps your family nice and cool during the hot summer months. Just as with any other appliance that you rely on, you’ll need to perform regular maintenance that includes cleaning to ensure the longevity of the system. If you’ve never cleaned your air conditioner before or you just need a refresher, we’re going to go over the steps with you below.
Kill the Power
The first step in the cleaning process is the most important. You need to kill the power to your entire air conditioning system. You can easily do this by locating the electrical panel inside of your house. It will typically be located in the basement, laundry room, or garage. Find the circuit breaker that’s labeled “AC,” and then turn it completely off.
Start With the Inside Unit
It’s easiest to start your cleaning with the indoor air conditioner. You’ll need to remove the access panel, which is typically held in by screws or bolts. Set the panel aside and locate your evaporator coil. You’ll want to use a no-rinse evaporator coil cleaner to remove the stuck-on debris and pollutants.
Once the foaming evaporator coil drips off, it’s time to clean the lower system components. These include the drain pipe and the drain. Stuck-on debris and hard water stains can eventually clog the drain and drain pipe. Mixing up a 50/50 solution of bleach and water can help to remove this stuck-on debris.
Now, since you’ve cleaned up the entire indoor unit, it’s time to reinstall the access panel. Ensure that you don’t accidentally turn the power back on just yet. You’ll want to leave the power off until you complete the entire system cleaning process, including cleaning the outdoor unit and cleaning or replacing the inside filter.
Check Around the Outdoor Unit
A crucial part of your centralized air conditioning system is your outdoor compressor unit. As you approach the unit, you’ll want to take a look at what’s in the vicinity of it. Most of the time, homeowners will notice a buildup of debris around the appliance. You’ll want to remove that debris so that it doesn’t inhibit the airflow to and from the unit.
In addition, it’s common for tree branches or shrubs to grow near the equipment. You should be cutting these back so that there is a solid three feet of distance surrounding the whole unit and no obstructions. This will ensure that the compressor unit has proper airflow to allow your air conditioning system to run at its most efficient.
Open up the Outdoor Unit
Next, you’re ready to start cleaning the outdoor compressor unit. The unit will have a metal cover over it. You’ll need to locate the screws holding it in place and remove them. When pulling off the grille cover, realize that there are likely wires connected to a fan that’s mounted on the cover. Make sure that you don’t damage these wires when removing the cover. You may need to safely disconnect the wires to fully remove the AC grille cover.
Your cleaning is going to start with the condenser coil. Your local hardware store will likely sell a caustic solution that will remove stuck-on debris from your unit. It’s important to understand that since the condenser coils are located outside, they’re exposed to the outdoor elements. These elements can be harsh on your system’s components, which is why you’ll need a heavy-duty cleaner.
Once your condenser coil is cleaned off, it’s time to use the hose. You’ll want to squirt off the fins so that they’re clean and remove any loose debris that has found its way inside of the compressor unit. As you’re cleaning off the fins, it’s imperative that you bend any damaged fins back into their original position. For your centralized air conditioning system to work optimally, all of the fins need to be facing outward in a straight position.
In most cases, you can use a simple pair of pliers to grasp the fin and straighten it out. There’s also a specialized fin comb that you can pick up at your local hardware store. You’ll need to determine how many fins are per square inch of your air conditioning unit. This is because the fin comb sizes are constructed based on the number of fins present per square inch.
Once all the air conditioning components are cleaned off, it’s time to put the AC grille cover back on. Be sure that you tighten the screws so that it doesn’t work itself out of place in the near future. If you had to disconnect any of the wires attached to the AC grille cover to remove it, now is the time to properly reconnect them.
Finish Up Inside Your Home
You’ll want to finish up cleaning your air conditioning unit inside of your house. Start with replacing or washing your existing air filter. Air conditioner experts recommend replacing your system’s air filter every three months. One key indicator that it’s time to replace your air filter is if you can no longer see through it.
There are four main types of air filters that you can purchase for your air conditioning system. These include pleated filters, washable filters, HEPA filters, and fiberglass filters. Fiberglass filters tend to be the cheapest and perform the least amount of filtering. HEPA filters, on the other end of the spectrum, filter 99.97% of airborne pollutants but are more expensive.
Once you get your air filter replaced, it’s time to move on to your vents and ductwork. Each room in your home should have at least two different vents. These are comprised of the supply and return vents. Bigger rooms in your house may have multiples of these vents. You’ll want to pop them out and give them a good washing. It’s very common for dust and debris to get stuck on the grates of the vent.
While you have the vents popped out, it’s the perfect time to do a little cleaning of your ductwork. Your ducting runs throughout the walls of your property, so you won’t have access to all parts of your ducting. However, when your vents are out, you’ll have access to a reasonable portion of your ducting. Take a vacuum and try to remove any dirt, dust, and other debris from the ducting.
It’s highly recommended to call in a professional to clean out the entire duct system of your house every three to five years. For most people, every five years will be fine. However, for those with severe allergies, respiratory conditions, or a large number of pets, having your system cleaned every three years is ideal. This is because there’s more likelihood of dust and debris accumulating when pets are present.
Dependable AC Maintenance
If you don’t have the time or expertise to perform maintenance on your air conditioning system, then be sure to reach out to Crystal Blue Plumbing Heating & Air. We provide quality cooling, heating, plumbing, and air filtration services to the entire Sacramento region. Call us today to schedule an appointment.