How to Clean your Air Conditioner
According to Healthy Building Systems, Australia, “Evidence shows up to 50% of all illnesses are caused by unhealthy indoor pollution. Polluted indoor air also impacts on system and asset efficiency, lifecycle and risk (fire, critical breakdowns, etc.).” With this in mind, it makes sense to keep the level of cleanness of our air conditioner – high. By regularly maintaining your AC, you significantly preserve energy, and more importantly – your health. AC filters are a true paradise for different bacteria, fungi, pet hair, dust, tobacco smoke, etc.
You can solve certain issues yourself, while others require professional service. Read on to find out what you can do to keep your AC clean.
When and What to Do Yourself?
There is no need to call a professional service for minor cleaning. It’s more logical to do some of the cleaning yourself. You’ll save money, and who knows – you may even find the removal of debris strangely satisfying?! If you notice a significant increase in your electric bills and you can’t remember when the last time you cleaned your AC was – now is the time! You can clean the outdoor unit (AC condenser) and some parts of the indoor unit (evaporator), yourself!
The Outside Unit
The outside unit includes a compressor, cooling fins, tubes, and a fan. The tools for cleaning the outside unit include a coil cleaner, water hose, gloves, and protective goggles.
Before anything, keep in mind that safety comes first, never work before turning off the electronics. Open the electronic box near the outside unit, and switch it to the OFF position. Once you have done that, follow these steps:
- Clean the condenser fins (metallic blades) surrounding the unit, by using the vacuum cleaner – the soft brush part. Depending on the model, you may have to unscrew and lift the metal cover to get to the fins. This should remove dust, dirt, leaves, and everything organic or nonorganic that got stuck.
- Realign and straighten fins which seem bent or crushed, by using a butter knife. Be careful and insert the knife just enough to align the fins.
- Clean the condenser interior by removing the fan.
- Check the motor of the fan. If you find lubricant ports, add just a few drops of electric motor oil (no penetrating or all-purpose oil). Modern air conditioners don’t need lubrication at all, and they don’t have these kind of ports. Check the user manual for your AC to be sure.
The Inside Unit
The indoor unit consists of an air filter, cooling coil, and a long blower. Before you proceed with the cleaning of your air conditioner, make sure to check if the device is still turned off. The equipment you will need to clean the inside unit include an aircon bag, coil cleaner, and a water sprayer.
The steps for cleaning the inside AC unit are:
- Place the aircon bag underneath the unit.
- Open the front cover. Be careful not to break the mechanism.
- Remove the filters, wash them with warm water and let them dry.
- Spray the coils and rotary blades with coil cleaner and let it sit for a while (20 minutes will do the job).
- Rinse the cleaner with the water sprayer.
- Turn on the device and wait until the water from the unit is in the bag.
- Turn the device off again and clean the outside of the unit.
If you are handy, you can complete the entire cleaning process by yourself. However, no matter how confident you are, before every cooling season, call a professional to clean the air conditioner and check whether it works properly or if some parts need to be replaced.
When to call a professional
Besides regular maintenance, situations that require professional intervention include:
- If you notice a strange smell coming from the air conditioner
- A refrigerant starts to leak
- The device does not work properly (cannot reach a certain temperature)
- The thermostat breaks
- When the device starts heating instead of cooling
If your air conditioner is still under warranty, even at the slightest hiccup, do not hesitate to contact the retailer or the manufacturer.
During hot summers, an air conditioner can make such a difference and really help us get through the day. It is then understandable why it is so important to maintain it on a regular basis, as per the recommendations of a manufacturer. Some parts can be maintained by users, for instance, the outdoor unit, filter and coils. However, before every season, contact the air conditioning service provider in your area to come and maintain your air conditioner, check if it works, and whether the filter should be replaced.