How To Clean Your Air Conditioning System Yourself

Air Conditioning

The coils, filters, and fins in your air conditioning system require regular cleaning to keep the unit functioning properly and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting the necessary cleaning may result into a steady decline in the performance of air conditioning, while increasing the energy use. Regular cleaning and maintenance will save you money and increase the lifespan of your HVAC system.

Although some of the modern air conditioner units come with self-cleaning functions, nothing can come close to hands-on cleaning of the various components within your system. For those unfamiliar with the process, here is a rundown of the steps involved in cleaning an air conditioner.

How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

It might sound a bit difficult, but once you’ve done it once, you’ll be confident on how to do it again. The following are the things you need to do this job:

  • Hex head nut driver
  • A hose connected to running water
  • A towel
  • Air filter
  • 1 cup of cleaning product

Safety First: the first thing you want to do when working with electrical equipment is to make sure that the power is turned off. Most air conditioner units come with a service disconnect mounted to the house within a few feet off the condenser. Be sure to turn off any of the power points that the unit is plugged into and turn it off at the circuit board when necessary.

Cleaning the Condenser Coils

To access the condenser coils of your unit for cleaning, you need to first remove the outer casing, which mostly requires a screwdriver or a similar tool. Once the outer casing is removed, locate the coils and remove any components that could be obstructing access to the coils.

Use a stiff brush or duster to clean any surface grime or dirt, and then remove any dirt that’s caked on or trapped by applying the cleaning agent. After 10 to 15 minutes, rinse it all away with clean water from the hose, ideally spraying from the inside. While you’re there, be sure to check the coil fins to see if they appear damaged or bent. If they do, comb them straight with a ‘fin comb’, which you can purchase from most specialist AC or hardware stores.

Cleaning the Area Around the Unit

Once you’ve finished cleaning the outside unit and have replaced the fan cage, you should now clean the area around the unit. Rake the leaves, dirt, and debris lying around the condenser from and cut back the vegetation and branches at least 2 feet in all the directions to make sure that there’s proper airflow around the unit.

It’s wise to cover the top of the unit during the winter months when the unit is not in use, using a piece of plastic or plywood to keep leaves and debris from falling in. However, be careful not to cover the inside sides of the unit completely, as it can lead to a buildup of moisture inside, which might lead to corrosion. Plus, a unit that’s covered encourages vermin to build nests. Be sure to remove the covering once the unit starts operating.

Remove and Clean the Air Filters

For this step, it’s time to move to the indoor unit. Flipping up or removing the front grille of the inside AC unit should reveal one large mesh panel or two (or more) smaller ones. These are the filter panels, which ideally serve as your first line of defense against different kinds of nasties including dust and microbes. This means that they tend to be clogged and get dirty incredibly quickly, and therefore need cleaning more regularly compared to other parts of the unit. However, the filters are the easiest part of the unit to clean.

In order to clean the panel, you only need to take them outside, taking care not to dislodge any of the dirt inside your home. Bash them a bit on a post or railing of some sort to dislodge most of the grime and dust. Vacuum off any of the remaining nastiness until the panels are clean.

How to Clean the Fan Coil

This component of the indoor unit that blows cool air out of the unit into the rooms that the unit serves. Accessing the fan coil will require you to remove the chassis of the indoor unit completely, which will most likely need you to use a screwdriver or a similar tool.

Once you get to the fan coil, you can simply spray it with the cleaning solution, leave it in for a few minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water. You don’t need to worry about mess or spillage, since most of the runoff should be caught by the drip pan. Next, rinse the fan coil well until you get a completely clear runoff, and no solution remains. However, take care not to flood the drip pan. Allow the runoff to drain completely before rinsing it any further. Also, make sure that the fan coil is dry before you put the chassis back on.

General Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

Once you’ve completed the steps outlined above, there are a few other things that your can do that will go a long way in keeping your unit functioning properly.

  • Spray a suitable anti-bacterial solution onto the components of your air conditioner that you’ve dealt with recently. These include the fan coil, the filters, drip tube and drip pan. This will help to prevent mold and bacteria from thriving inside the air con system, thereby protecting you and your loved ones from inhaling nasties from the air.
  • Remember to clean the drop channels of the unit. You can use a pipe cleaner or a stiff wire to do the trick, since all you will be trying to do is get rid of any obstructions or clogging, which might be detrimental to the efficiency of your system.
  • It’s understandable that cleaning the air conditioner is not the most fun task in the world. If you’d rather be spending your time elsewhere rather than cleaning, you should perhaps consider hiring a professional air conditioning maintenance service.