Your air conditioner sits outside in the wind, rain and elements day in and day out. While it’s keeping your home cool, it’s also collecting leaves, dirt and various debris. This dirt and debris can slowly begin to weaken the performance of your system over time, eventually leading to a mechanical breakdown.
Keeping your air conditioning unit properly maintained will not only save you money, as it will perform more efficiently, but it will also ensure the unit will last longer with fewer mechanical issues, giving you a longer lifespan before replacement. Built-up grime leads to a lack of airflow into and out of the air conditioner, This creates conditions inside the unit that lead to heat build-up, inefficient cooling, or worse.
The compressor and condenser are located in the external unit and work to release the heat that was collected from inside your home. However, when these coils and components are covered in dirt and grime it impedes the cooling unit’s efficiency.
One way to combat this is to schedule annual maintenance with your local HVAC company. While this is an easy hands-off approach to keeping your system functioning well, it is also the most expensive.
An easier, and much less expensive, Air Conditioner Cleaning option is to clean the unit yourself. It only takes about an hour of your time and less than five dollars worth of materials from the local hardware store. Follow the below easy steps for easy maintenance.
In order to clean the air conditioner, you will first need to turn the unit off at the thermostat and locate the external disconnect on the unit and turn the switch to off prior to any maintenance. It is a good idea at this point to manually clean any built-up dirt or larger debris from the exterior of the unit. You can easily do this using a simple garden hose and spraying the dirt and debris off and away from the unit.
Next, you will need to remove the exterior of the unit. These will often pop off, however, most units will require a few screws to be removed first. Once you open up the unit, carefully use the garden hose to gently spray the dirt from the grates from the inside out to prevent pushing dirt and debris further into the unit. Once this is done, spray the coils with the coil cleaner.
Wait ten to fifteen minutes for the cleaner to build up foam and begin activating. Pay attention to the instructions and safety warnings on the label to ensure proper use. Once the proper amount of time has passed simply rinse the cleaner from the coils with the garden hose.
If you notice any of the fins or grates are bent, now is a good time to straighten them back out. This can easily be accomplished with a commercial tool, but a simple butter knife will usually work just fine. These bends in the fins create bottlenecks for airflow which reduce the cooling efficiency the same as dirt build-up.
It is best to do this at least annually to ensure system performance, however for optimal efficiency we recommend once in the Spring and once in the Summer. We recommend putting reminders on your calendar so you don’t forget. Remember, regular maintenance will extend the life of your air conditioner and save you money over the life of your unit. Good luck!