Spring is the ideal season for HVAC cleaning. There’s no better time than now to give your air conditioner a meticulous rinse and wash. From the harsh freezing hail to the heavy drizzling rain, your outdoor air conditioner has probably seen better days. After months of enduring through the volatile weather conditions, your AC unit could benefit from some rigorous cleaning and general maintenance.
There are numerous benefits for cleaning your air conditioner regularly. This cleanse ensures the air conditioner functions at its highest level of efficiency, without any clogs or debris. In addition, cleaning the AC helps to preserve the longevity of the HVAC equipment. When the air conditioner parts are well-maintained, you should encounter fewer problems overall and the number of necessary repairs will decrease.
Follow these best practices on how to clean an air conditioner properly:
1. Turn off the air conditioner’s power
Before the cleaning commences, always turn off the power as a safety precaution. Start by shutting off the power on the exterior condenser and compressor. Next, turn off the power at the breaker box, which is usually situated inside your house. It can get messy and dangerous if you clean an air conditioner that is still running, so make sure you turn off the power completely.
2. Clear away natural debris from the AC
During winter, it is unlikely that you went outside and cleaned the air conditioner in midst of the freezing temperatures. This means your AC unit has gone through many months without any proper cleaning. The signs of neglect will be evident in the air conditioner’s exterior appearance. Your AC unit had been struck by the brunt of harsh winds and storms, so don’t be surprised if it’s completely covered with branches, leaves, or dead insects.
Before you start cleaning inside the air conditioner, get rid of all the natural debris surrounding the unit’s exterior. Otherwise, they will obstruct your cleaning processes. Clear away the leaves, twigs, grass, pine needles, and any other nature’s remnants from the air conditioner.
3. Be proactive with air conditioner cleaning
Cleaning an air conditioner isn’t exactly an enjoyable task, and many homeowners feel reluctant to do this type of work. A common excuse to avoid the maintenance work is that the air conditioner looks clean enough, just because you can’t see any natural debris. However, never assume that your air conditioner is clean based on its exterior appearance.
Some debris are small and covert, so they may evade your detection at first. You may not even realize how dirty your air conditioner is until a closer examination. If you have vines, bushes or flowers growing nearby, pollen may find a way to infiltrate your air conditioner. The same goes for mould spores and dust particles. All these pollutants are barely visible, but they can block the AC unit from pulling in air and reduce its efficiency.
You should take a proactive approach towards cleaning your air conditioner. Instead of using your pure instincts to decide if the AC is clean or not, establish a regular cleaning schedule. At the start of every spring season, you can follow this schedule to make sure the air conditioner stays clean.
4. Clean the air conditioner fins
The fins are a part of the condenser that moves heat away from the air conditioner. You can use a vacuum to remove dirt from the fins, and then give them a thorough spray with the garden hose. If the fins are very dirty, there are fin cleaning sprays specifically designed to remove the more persistent debris.
Once you’ve cleaned the fins, take a look to see if any of them are bent. Bent fins can cause a reduction in air flow, leading to decreased efficiency. Contact a professional air conditioner repair service if you need help to straighten the air conditioner fins.
5. Clean the air filters
The air filter captures the pollutants and hazardous particles that go through the AC unit. As a result, the filter quickly becomes clogged with dust and dirt. When the air filter is too dirty, it will obstruct regular airflow and cause a decrease in efficiency.
Air filters can be replaceable or reusable. Replaceable filters are usually made from a papery material, whereas reusable filters are made from a rubber or metal material. You should try to change replaceable air filters twice a year. If your AC unit has reusable filters, you should aim to clean them twice a year.
To clean the filters, wash them gently with dish soap and lukewarm water. The filters tend to be delicate, so make sure you handle them carefully to avoid damages.
6. Clean the air conditioner drain line
In addition, you should clean the air conditioner’s drain line. As the evaporator unit cools and dehumidifies the air from outside, it produces a liquid that runs through a thin plastic pipe to a drain in the floor of your basement. Over time, mould and algae have the potential to plug up the drain.
If you notice the drain is flowing slowly, you’ll need to unplug it. This can be done by applying a wet/dry vacuum on the end of the drain line. Keep vacuuming until the clog and any excess moisture are cleared from the drain.