How can I tell if my air conditioner needs cleaning?

If you’ve never cleaned your air conditioner’s condenser and solely rely on professional HVAC servicing once a year, chances are your unit could use some cleaning. Giving your outdoor unit a thorough cleaning before the summer heat sets in can help reduce your energy bill by improving your A/C system’s efficiency.

To determine if your unit needs cleaning, you can inspect the outdoor portion of your air conditioner. If it has been exposed to the elements all winter, you’re likely to see leaves or debris on the fan or between the blades. Even if you had a cover on it during the winter, it’s still a good idea to visually inspect it for any buildup or debris that could be obstructing the fan or fins.

Once you’ve established that your unit needs attention, you can gather the necessary tools and materials to begin cleaning it properly.

What do I need to clean my home A/C unit?

To ensure that you clean your unit correctly without causing any damage, gather the following tools and materials before starting the cleaning process:

  • A/C specifications and/or operating manual (any documentation related to your unit)
  • Screwdriver
  • Shop vac or vacuum cleaner with a gentle brush attachment
  • Cloth or rag
  • Mild cleaning solution or water
  • Garden hose with a sprayer attachment

How do I clean the outdoor A/C unit (the condenser)?

The first and most important step in cleaning your home A/C unit is to turn off the power to the unit. You can do this at the outdoor shutoff or the main electrical panel, but make sure the power is off before starting.

Here’s how to clean your outdoor A/C unit (the condenser):

  1. Use a shop vac to remove large leaves and debris that have collected on the outside.
  2. Unscrew the fan from the top portion of the condenser and carefully set it aside. Then, wipe the area with a damp cloth or mild cleaning solution.
  3. Spray the condenser fins from the inside of the unit with mild pressure.
  4. Replace the fan.

What air conditioner cleaning mistakes should I avoid?

Cleaning your home A/C unit may seem intimidating at first, which is why we’ve compiled a list of things to watch out for when cleaning the condenser, fins, and coils:

  • When removing the fan, handle it carefully and place it somewhere safe to prevent damage.
  • Take care not to spray the actual motor when spraying the fins.
  • Remember to check the indoor air filter, as a dirty filter can affect how well your unit performs.
  • Keep plants, equipment, and anything else at least 2 feet away from your condenser to ensure proper functioning.
  • Avoid using a power washer, as it can easily damage the fins and coils and lead to total unit failure.

By keeping your air conditioner clean, you can extend its lifespan and reduce your utility bills in the long run. Regular cleaning is especially important if you live in an area where your unit gets a lot of use.