Why is cleaning your air conditioner important?
According to the US Department of Energy, two-thirds of all homes in the US have an air conditioner. An air conditioner does more than just keep your home cool in the warm summer months. It reduces allergens found in the air of your home and also consumes large amounts of energy. In fact, every year it costs more than $29 billion to power air conditioners in the US. When an air conditioner is regularly maintained, it increases the longevity of the unit, decreases the amount of energy it uses and increases its cooling power. While maintaining an air conditioner may seem like a simple process, it actually involves servicing not only the indoor portion of your HVAC system but the outdoor portion as well.
How to Clean the Indoor Unit
1. Purchase a new air conditioner filter at your local home improvement store. Be sure to purchase the appropriate size for your unit. The required size can be found in your air conditioner owner’s manual as well as on the outside of some units.
EXAMPLE OF AN AIR FILTER
2. Turn off the power to your furnace or blower. This is an important step to ensure your safety as you begin working on your unit.
3. Open the blower compartment and vacuum any dust or debris that you can see. If your motor is equipped with lubrication ports, squeeze five drops of lubricant specially designed for electric motors into the ports. If you are unsure whether your blower motor has lubrication ports, consult your owner’s manual.
4. Remove the plastic condensation tube from the unit and check for any signs of algae growth. If the tube is clogged, pour a 1:16 bleach to water solution through a funnel and into the tube to clean it out. Set the tube aside to dry while you perform the next steps.
5. Take a pipe cleaner or a small bristled brush and clean the drain tube.
6. Hook the drain condensation tube back to the unit, hook the drain line back up, replace the filter, replace the blower door, and reconnect power.
How to Clean the Outdoor Unit
AFTER COMPLETING THE FOLLOWING STEPS, YOUR AC UNIT WILL LOOK AS GOOD AS NEW!
1. Shut down power to the outdoor unit. This may be done by shutting off power at the exterior switch or turning off the fuse that controls the air conditioner.
2. Vacuum the condenser fins on the top of the air conditioner. Use a soft-bristled vacuum attachment. It may be necessary to remove the protective grate from the top of the unit to access the fins. Be sure to remove any dust, grass, leaves, or other debris that may inhibit airflow. Be sure to vacuum the fins gently as they have a tendency to bend if too much pressure is applied. Take this opportunity to cut any branches, limbs, or bushes that may be within two feet of your air conditioner.
3. Unscrew the top grille of the air conditioner and carefully remove the fan without disturbing the electrical connections. Wipe any dust or debris from the fan with a soft, damp cloth.
4. Most fans do not have lubrication ports, but if your fan does, place five drops of a specially made fan motor oil into the lubrication ports. Do NOT use WD-40 or other all-purpose lubricants.
5. Spray the inside of the empty air conditioner unit with moderate pressure from a water hose.
6. Return the grille and fan back to their proper positions and allow the air conditioner to sit idle for 24 hours before restoring power and restarting the air conditioner. This allows the unit to dry before being started completely.
7. Turn your air conditioner on and allow it to run for 10 minutes. Pull back the insulation from the pipes coming out of the compressor. One should feel warm while the other should feel cold. If the temperatures of these pipes are off, the unit needs to have its coolant levels adjusted by a professional.
How to Clean a Wall Unit
Wall or window air conditioning units are often much simpler to maintain but include many of the same steps as central air conditioners.
1. Disconnect the wall unit from its power source.
2. Remove the rear exhaust panel from the unit. Clean the fins and coils with a soft brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner taking special care not to bend the fins or disturb the coils. Return the rear exhaust panel to its place.
3. At the bottom of the unit are several drain channels. Check these for clogs and use a pipe cleaner or small bristled bottle brush to clean any dirt or debris from the drains.
4. Remove the front panel of the air conditioner and clean the air filter either with a vacuum cleaner or using warm, sudsy water. Allow the filter to dry completely before putting it back in place and replacing the front panel of the unit.
5. Using the brush attachment of a vacuum, dust the front vents and grille. Once your air conditioner is clean, you can restore power and turn the unit on.
When and How Often Should I Clean My Air Conditioner?
Air conditioners are large investments in your home’s comfort and should regularly be maintained. Ideally, an air conditioner should be cleaned and serviced every year before the hottest of the summer months. Not only will regular cleaning help lengthen the life of your unit, removing dust and debris will help your air conditioner run more efficiently and keep dust and allergens out of your home. To have your air conditioner cleaned, serviced, and inspected, contact Farnen and Dermer for professional, affordable service options.