Keeping your air conditioner's condenser coils clean and free from debris can allow your unit to run more efficiently and extend its lifespan. Many people choose to clean their air conditioners in the springtime, ensuring it is in top condition just before the heat of summer hits. Here are a few steps on keeping your outside unit clean and keeping your system running efficiently for the warmer season and avoid costly AC repairs.
Step 1: Disconnect Power
Most central air conditioners are equipped with a shutoff box next to the unit itself, as shown above. Depending on your unit's brand and model, you may need to pull out the shutoff box, remove a fuse, or flip a switch to shut the power to the unit. If your particular heating and cooling unit does not have a shutoff box, turn off the power from the circuit breaker panel that controls your unit.
Step 2: Trim Plant Growth
Make sure that any grass, weeds, bushes, or other foliage are trimmed a
minimum of two feet away from your unit to prevent them from getting inside.
Step 3: Detach Outer Case
Depending on your type of unit, you will either need a nut driver or a screwdriver to remove the outer casing or access panel.
Step 4: Remove the Top of the AC
You may need to lift the fan assembly off your unit in order to remove the top of the air conditioner. If so, be careful not to stretch and damage the fan wires.
Step 5: Clean & Lubricate Fan Assembly
Use a rag, broom, or shop vacuum to clear any dirt and debris that have accumulated on the fan motor and shaft. This is also a good opportunity to apply a small drop of oil to each lubrication port in your motor. If your unit does not have lubrication ports, skip this step.
Step 6: Brush Away Dirt
Using a brush or a broom, gently brush away dirt from the coils.
Step 7: Spray Clean Coils
Trapped dirt can be sprayed away with just water, while more substantial dirt may require you to use a biodegradable foaming cleaner. Always cover any wires or motors with plastic before you spray! Spray the coils from the outside and allow it to soak for about 15 minutes, repeating as necessary. Rinse away any remaining cleaner from the coils until the runoff is clear. Do not power wash your coils, as this will damage your unit.
Step 8: Inspect for Damage
If any coil fins are bent, they can be combed straight using a special "fin comb" which can be purchased at any air conditioning supply store.
Step 9: Reassemble
Make sure that you get all the screws back on! Now you can turn back on the power and enjoy your nice, clean unit.
Need a Hand? Air Force One Can Help.
If you aren't comfortable with doing this yourself, locate a local service professional to do it for you. We do this as part of our Presidential Club Membership for your annual spring maintenance for the outdoor air conditioning unit.