Leaves comong out of an air conditioner

How to Clean Your Air Conditioning Unit

Being comfortable in your home is very important and it can start with just having the right temperature. This being said you want to take care of the home system that maintains that cozy temp for you, your air conditioner! Many people do not think about the maintenance of the air conditioner unit until it goes out or isn’t cooling properly. If you are able to clean the unit on your own, you can save some big bucks! The cost for cleaning your air conditioner coils can range from $250-500! Being able to take some simple steps to keep your air conditioner working properly is the basic knowledge you need to keep it functioning and working for you and your home.

Why is it Important to Clean Your Air Conditioner?

No one wants their air conditioner to break down and it can also be a costly repair if it does! It never fails the air conditioner breaks down during the hottest stretch of summer too! As a homeowner or renter, you want to take the proper precautions and steps to make sure your house doesn’t become a hot spot in the summer! The simplest way to help keep your air conditioner from breaking down is making sure that is doesn’t have to work too hard. You can keep your thermostat at a moderate temperature. If you want your home to be 60 degrees and it is 90+ degrees outside, you might be asking your air conditioner to work too hard! Keep it at a reason able temperature like 70-72 degrees, this will ensure your air conditioner doesn’t work too hard at keeping your home cool and comfortable. Also, you should keep bushes and plants clear from the outside air conditioning unit to allow proper air flow. Allowing your air conditioner to work easily will also save on energy!

bushes and plants outside an air conditioning unit

While making sure your air conditioner is working properly can reduce your energy costs and save you money, it is also important to help your air condition unit not to work too hard. It is also considered negligence on your part as a homeowner or renter if the unit needs repairs or replacement if the air conditioner is not routinely cleaned. Not routinely cleaning the coils of the air conditioner can force the unit to work overtime during hot summer months to try and achieve the cool temperature inside set by your thermostat. If you have a home warrant it could be voided if the maintenance is not kept up on the unit!

Out of Sight Out of Mind

With the air conditioner outside of your home and usually not front and center in your yard may make this vital piece of your home comfort less on your mind than it should be. Some homeowners think it is an eye sore for their yard, so they will plant bushes and plants around the unit trying to hide it. This is actually a huge No No! Your air conditioner filter needs to breath. Planting bushes and plants around the unit will cause the filter to pull in leaves and other foliage particles that make your air conditioning unit work harder than it has to because the air conditioner filter is dirty. If there are already plants and bushes around the unit of your home’s air conditioner be sure to keep them trimmed back at least 2 feet from the unit so the unit can breathe. Routinely cutting back the bushes and other plants so that the air conditioner has easy air flow will not only keep from the filter from getting too dirty, but it will help make sure your air conditioning unit isn’t working harder than it has to, therefore extending its life. Homeowners or renters should plan on cleaning their air conditioner coils at least twice a year.

Before Cleaning the Air Conditioning Unit

Before you take on any task with any home appliance or home system, be sure to remove the power source. This is very important for your safety! You do not want to be working on the air conditioner and have the fan start up while you hand or arm are inside the unit. You also do not want an electrical current going through the unit while you are working on the unit. This is true before cleaning or fixing any of the appliances around your house.

If you have never cleaned an air conditioner unit, be sure to watch our video on how to clean it so you have the proper tools and know how to clean the coils. The coils can easily be damaged and cleaning the unit while easy needs to be done correctly to avoid damage to the unit or injury to yourself.

What You Need to Clean Your Air Conditioning Unit

What You Need to Clean Your Air Conditioning Unit

If you are clearing away debris from the air conditioning unit, you might need garden sheers, weed eater, and work gloves. When you start to clean the air conditioning coils or the filter you will need to have a power drill or a screw driver to remove the screws holding the fan in place. It is a good idea to have a little bowl or cup to put all the screws in, so you don’t accidentally lose one on the ground while working. Once you have all the screws out, place the bowl or cup with the screws aside. You do this so when you are spraying the coils it doesn’t knock the bowl or cup over where you could lose a screw. You also need to have your garden hose hooked to your spicket read to go when you open the unit. You may think about using a power washing attachment on the end of your garden house to give a more direct hit when cleaning the coils, but do not add too much water pressure as this could bend the coils and that can also create problems when the air conditioner is trying to pull air through the unit. If you see the coils starting to bend turn the water pressure down immediately. You can use a butter knife to gently try and straighten the bent coils back into place.

How to Clean Air Conditioning Filters

filthy air conditioner coilsYou can clean the coils of the air conditioner easily with a water hose from the inside out. Using the water pressure to push the debris out of the coils. Pro Tip: move the water hose in a pattern to help ensure that you are cleaning every portion of the filter. If the unit is pretty dirty you may want to remove the outside cover as well and use a brush to remove some of the dirt from the fins. Be careful when cleaning the fins as they are sharp and could scratch or cut you if you are not using a brush or wearing work gloves to protect your hands. While some may think using a blowtorch is a great way to remove the excess debris from the coils keep in mind they are made of aluminum and could easily melt. Professionals may use a blow torch to clear the debris, but they also know at what temperature they can use the fire to remove debris without damaging the coils. It is not a good idea to use a blow torch to clear the debris on your own.

How Often Do You Need to Clean the Air Conditioner Filter?

Routine cleaning of the air conditioner coils will help ensure that the unit isn’t working harder than it needs to, to properly cool your home or office. In the Midwest you should, at a minimum, clean the unit in the spring before you use the unit to cool your home and midway in summer to remove any debris that has built up over the season. If you live in a different climate your cleaning schedule could increase to several times a year to ensure that the coils are kept clean. If you have bushes or trees that have spring and fall debris from seeding or leaves you may want to check that the unit is not clogged up with these things several times, otherwise your air conditioning unit may be working harder than it needs to and the life span could be affected and shortened.

Window Air Conditioner Cleaning

Not all homes have central air conditioning. You might have a window air conditioning unit or if you live in an apartment that has window air conditioners making it difficult to use a garden house to clean the unit. What you need to do it first remove the unit from the window and you can place it on your patio for cleaning. You do not want to do this inside because it is messy. If you are not using a hose to clean the unit and you are using an air conditioning cleaner or evaporator there is a strong smell with the use of either of these products you do not want inside your home. You can purchase an air conditioner evaporator or coil cleaning foam that you can spray on the coils to clean the air conditioner coils.

Leaves comong out of an air conditionerYou can buy air conditioner evaporator cleaner online at amazon or go to your local Walmart or hardware store. You will want to remove the front cover to expose the coils and use the spray to get to all the dirty parts of the coils and allow it to set but do not let it set too long it could damage the coils. Be sure to follow all instructions on using the spray or foam when using them to clean your air conditioning filters. You may need to rinse of the cleaner after you have used it, other cleaners do not require a rinse of the coils after cleaning. When using any chemical, it is advised to wear protective gloves and eye wear so you do not get it on your skin or in your eyes. The wind could pick up while you are spraying the unit and you do not need to cause an injury from lack of protection.

Once You Are Done

After you have cleaned the air conditioner unit make sure you have removed anything you were using to clean the unit from inside of the unit. If you used a bowl or a cup to hold the screws it is easy to make sure you have all your tools and screws so you don’t accidentally leave something inside the unit. You can then put the cover back on using the screws and screw driver as before to reattach the fan cover or face place of the window air conditioner. Then reattach the power the air conditioner unit and it should start back up shortly. Set a reminder to check back on your air conditioning unit so that its next routine maintenance check isn’t forgotten. You can set a reminder by using your smart phone or writing it on a calendar, either is fine as long as you will actually see the reminder. If you live in a warmer climate your reminder should be monthly to check on the coils to make sure they are not dirty otherwise twice a year should be sufficient. Now you can go back inside and enjoy the comforts of your air conditioning knowing you were able to take care of your air conditioning unit and saved money at the same time.

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