How to Clean Your Air Conditioner Effectively

The Department of Energy states that proper air conditioning maintenance will increase efficiency, energy performance and years of service. The repair costs of air conditioners are relatively high, so basic maintenance will keep the unit running efficiently for many years to come.

Safety Precautions
Anytime you work on any electrical equipment, be sure to first turn the power off. As an added precaution, consider turning off the breaker or power switch in the electrical panel that controls the unit. Almost all air conditioners have a strategically placed service disconnect mounted near the condenser, which is the outside part of the unit. When you open the lid of the unit, you will discover a disconnect handle that can be pulled to shut off the power supply. Once the power is off, remove the bolts that are mounted on the top of the unit with a nut driver or screwdriver. Once these are removed, the whole top of the unit shell that protects the fan, motor and condenser can be removed. Never remove the bolts that connect the fan and motor to the lid.

Maintenance Tips
Leave the motor wires attached to the service panel on the unit’s side because they are potentially unsafe electrical components. When perform maintenance, avoid crushing the air fins that are wrapped around the condensing unit. If the fins are clogged or damaged, air cannot smoothly pass through the coils. This will decrease efficiency and may even cause the unit to overheat. If you mistakenly break one or two, the manufacturer will most likely sell replacement air fins. Air conditioning efficiency and capability are based on the coils sizes and porous thickness. Large coils mean that more air can pass through and reducing heat. Keeping the coils clean is the best way to ensure top performance.

The Cleaning Process
First, clean out any debris like leaves or twigs because they tend to trap water and prevent evaporation, which leads to rusting. Place a towel or plastic over the service panel area to minimize water from leaking inside. Use a regular garden how to spray the unit from the outside. That is, air is pulled into the unit, so spraying into the unit from the outside will only force muck and dirt deeper into the air fins. Set the garden hose pressure low because high pressure may bend the fins. Avoid spraying into the service panel area and the service disconnect area. Clean fins will allow light to pass through. If you don’t plan on changing the filter, remount and re-bolt the shell to the air conditioner’s condensing unit.

Readers should note that air conditioner filters don’t have to be changed monthly, but they must be checked monthly.

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