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Basic Air Conditioning Unit Cleaning Tips

Your outdoor air conditioning unit experiences a lot of wear and tear. With storms, wind, and snow, your unit gets dirty very quickly. Don’t forget the heat! If your unit gets a lot of the hot sun, basic parts experience wear very quickly. It’s important to keep your outdoor unit clean to help prevent the need for more serious air conditioning repairs. It is best to have an air conditioning professional take care of this, but there are certain things you can do to clean your outdoor AC unit.

Tips For Cleaning Your Air Conditioner Properly

Even if you have a heat pump system or a unit in the attic, you can still benefit from these AC cleaning tips:

  1. Your outside unit is called the condenser. This generally contains cooling fins, tubes, a compressor, and a fan. Before cleaning, locate your A/C power source and unplug it. You’ll want to clean the condenser fins, first. These get dirty as a central fan sucks air through them and gathers dust, dirt, grass and other types of twigs and leaves. This debris can block your airflow.
  2. Vacuum these fins with a soft brush. On some units, you may remove the metal box to find them. You may need to straighten the fins slightly – if they are extremely bent, have a professional do this.
  3. Hose off fins, and then check the lubrication ports at fan motor – many newer models have sealed ports, but if yours does (consult your owner’s manual) lubricate it lightly with drops of electric motor oil.
  4. Restart the unit to ensure it’s cooling correctly. Plug it back in, or turn your power back on, and then set the thermostat to “cool.” The insulated tube inside the condenser should be cool after 10 minutes or so; the uninsulated tube should be warm. Before you restart the unit, be sure that it will start normally – some units are specific and require a different set of restart procedures. Consult your owner’s manual to follow these.

If you don’t feel comfortable following these procedures, be sure to consult an AC professional! Your AC unit, inside and out, needs to be maintained and cleaned regularly – you can imagine the types of debris that enters both your condenser and indoor unit. This debris causes the air conditioner to work inefficiently – and it enters the air you breathe, as well.

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