Air conditioners are only necessary during certain parts of the year in the Baltimore, Pennsylvania, area. But when summer rolls around, it gets hot, and you’ll want your air conditioner working well right from the very start of the season. Cleaning your air conditioning unit is one way to make it more likely that your air conditioner will work well without a hitch throughout the entire season and well into the early months of fall.
Turn off the Power
Whenever you’re going to be working on your air conditioning unit, you need to remember that it’s a device that uses electricity, so you need to put your safety first. You can ensure that you never have to worry about getting electrocuted by making sure that you turn off the power at the electrical box before starting any work on your air conditioning system.
Start With the Inside Unit
Most air conditioning systems have a part of the unit that’s located on the inside of the house and one that’s located on the outside. Starting with the inside unit, you should clean several components, including the evaporator coils, drain pan, drain, and air conditioning access panel.
To access the inside of the indoor part of the air conditioning unit, you’ll need to remove the door, which will likely involve removing a few bolts. The next step is to clean the evaporator coils with a soft brush. You’ll mostly be removing dust and pollen from the coils. The next step is to use a cleaning spray that’s specifically developed to use on the coils of an air conditioner. This kind of spray doesn’t need to be cleaned off because the excess along with any dirt will drip into the tray underneath. And you can find this type of spray at a home improvement store.
The next step is to clean out the drain pan, which might be filled with water and even mold or mildew. To do this, you’ll need to reach into the unit and pull the pan out. Then, you’ll want to dump out any water that remains and clean out the pan to get rid of the mold and other materials that could be negative to you and your family’s health. A mixture of bleach and water will kill any bacteria. Then, you’ll return the pan back to its place underneath the condenser coils.
You should also make sure that the air conditioner drain isn’t plugged. To do this, you should pour a mixture of bleach and water down the drain. If it flows down easily, that last step isn’t necessary. If it takes a while for that water and bleach to go down the drain, you should find where the drain empties, which will either be in a drain on the floor of the basement or outside. Use a wet/dry vac to vacuum out the hose until the blockage is removed. This step will usually take a couple of minutes. Once you put the access panel back on, you’re done.
Clean the Outside Unit
The first step to cleaning out the outside unit is to take the grill off. To do this, you’ll likely have to take out some screws. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to remove the leaves, twigs, dirt, and any other kinds of debris in the air conditioning unit. A wet/dry vac works to remove this, or you can simply scoop them out with your hands.
The next step is to clean the condenser coils on the outside of the unit using a special cleaner that’s specifically made for condenser coils. You should note that this cleaner is very caustic and is also hazardous to smell, so you should make sure that you keep your face away from it and use it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Spray the solution on the coils and fins; then, spray the coils and fins off with a hose.
An often overlooked step is to straighten the fins because ensuring that they’re straight will improve the efficiency of the unit. To straighten them, you should pick up a kit, which includes a comb that’s specially designed to straighten them.
Replace the grate back on the unit, clean around the unit, and make sure that the air conditioner is sitting level.
You should also clean or replace the filter. If you have to clean it, you’ll need to remove the filter and soak it to get rid of the dust. Then, let it dry before replacing it in the unit.