Air Conditioner Cleaning Guide for Homeowners

As temperatures rise amid summer, air conditioners have become the ultimate home essential. Just recently, there have been reports of record-breaking heat waves around the country, which means that it’s all the more important to take care of your air conditioning unit. Of course, part of maintaining your units are cleaning them, so your system can keep functioning efficiently and properly. Without upkeep, your unit may end up working harder than it should just to cool the room — resulting in more repairs and higher electric bills over time.

Fortunately, cleaning your air conditioning units isn’t rocket science. Below, we walk you through some basic tips for homeowners.

Clean your air conditioner regularly

First, how do you know if it’s time to clean your unit? Air conditioning experts suggest cleaning your air conditioner thoroughly at least once a year or even more. If you want to keep dust from building up and reduce long-term strain on your appliance, you may even consider gently cleaning your air filter every 1-2 months. This may sound tedious, but like we said, you save repair and energy costs in the long run. What’s more, this general rules applies to all types of air conditioners — whether you’re using split-types, cassette types, portable types, or window air conditioner units.

Start with your filters

No matter what kind of air conditioner you own, cleaning and changing your filters is one of the most important steps. A clogged or dirty filter is what causes airflow to become weak and ineffective, forcing your unit to consume more energy to perform. Your lifestyle can play a factor in how often you’ll need to check your filter. For instance, if you’ve got pets, then it’s likely that your filters will clog up more often. If you have a central air conditioner unit, it’s good to use pleated filters to capture dirt and dust better.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a wall-mounted air conditioner, check your appliance’s manual to see how to open it properly and remove the filters accordingly. In general, you can dust off the filter, rinse it with lukewarm water and soap, then let it dry completely before putting it back in your unit. Different kinds of air conditioners may require different ways of cleaning because of their specific parts and structures. Be sure to do your research so you don’t end up misplacing parts and causing more damage to your appliance. If you make a mistake, you might even end up voiding your warranty.

Clean your coils

The coils in your air conditioner are responsible for moving hot and cold air, so it goes without saying that you need to keep debris away from it. Fortunately, those with central air conditioners can easily clean the outdoor condenser unit. Begin by checking for any dirt and debris blocking the exterior fins. Then, switch off your appliance and gently spray it down with a hose — but make sure not to wet the electrical box. Make sure it dries fully before using your unit again.

Meanwhile, those with window-type units will have to open up the air conditioner to access the inner coils. If you spot any dirt, brush it away gently using a cloth or soft brush. From there, you can take a spray bottle with some soap and clean any leftover debris. Be careful not to make it too sudsy. You can also check the outside fins in the back for dirt, then simply clean it the same way.

Check for common issues

It’s not enough to look out for dirt when cleaning your unit; it’s the perfect time to check for other issues too. For example, leakages, icy coils, and weak airflow could all indicate that your filter is clogged, your unit is blocked, or some tubes and pumps might be damaged. Have a checklist handy, so you immediately know what to spot. If you do find problems that you don’t know how to fix, call in an expert to help you out.

When in doubt, consult the experts

As we’ve just mentioned, consulting air conditioning experts or your appliance brand’s company is always an option in case you’re ever unsure about anything. Plus, some problems are really best left to professionals. One good example is if your unit’s Freon levels are low. Freon, which is responsible for cooling your home, is meant to be replenished by experts. Do not attempt to do this on your own, as there is a right way to handle such gases. At the end of the day, what’s important is providing your air conditioner with the regular maintenance needed, so it can continue to function for years.

Looking for more home care tips and tricks? Check out our other posts on Urban NW Homes.


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By: Roslin Jenn