As a homeowner, you have a lot of maintenance tasks that you need to take care of throughout the year. As the spring season rolls around, cleaning your home air conditioning unit is a necessity. This will help to ensure that your AC system is working properly and will reduce your risk of having a malfunction during the hot summer months.

Start by Killing the Power

The most crucial step in the entire cleaning process is to shut off your air conditioning system. After turning the power button off for the system, you’ll want to go downstairs to the breaker box in your home. Look for the breakers that are associated with your air conditioning system and flip them into the off position as an extra safety measure. You don’t want to turn them back on until you’ve completely cleaned both the inside and outside components of your system.

Change the Air Filter

When you do your springtime air conditioner cleaning, it’s a good time to change out the existing air filter. A good rule of thumb is that your air filter should be replaced when you can no longer see through it. For most homeowners, this will be every three months. If you have pets or a very large family, you should consider changing your air filter more often as it’s likely to get dirtier much quicker than the average home.

There are four different types of filters that you can use for your system. These include fiberglass, pleated, HEPA, and reusable. Fiberglass is going to be the cheapest filter you can buy. It doesn’t stop as much debris as the more expensive HEPA filters do.

Most homeowners settle for the in-between quality of pleated air filters that are both cost-efficient and effective at removing airborne debris. If you would rather clean your filter instead of purchasing a new one, you can always invest in a reusable air filter. Just ensure that it’s fully dried out before you reinstall it, or it could produce mold and mildew in your system.

Open Up the Indoor Access Panel

You’ll want to open up the access panel to your indoor air conditioning unit. You’ll likely need to remove a few bolts or screws to completely remove the panel. Once it’s open, take a soft brush and clean off the evaporator coils with a no-rinse coil cleaner. This is a foaming cleanser that works to remove stuck-on debris. As it works, the foam will collect the debris and drain it off into the drain pan.

Next, move on to cleaning out the drainpipe and the drain itself. It’s very common for hard water to build up inside of the drainpipe and drain. Over time, this can cause a clog and result in a backup of water inside of your AC unit. Pouring a bleach solution down the drainpipe and drain can help to remove those hard water stains and other stuck-on debris. Once all of these components are clean, it’s time to reattach the access panel.

Head to Your Outdoor Unit

Cleaning the inside unit is fairly easy to do. However, when you get to the outside unit, expect to invest a good bit of time. The outside unit is exposed every day to the outdoor elements. This makes it more prone to getting extremely dirty.

As you assess your outside unit, you’ll want to evaluate what’s around it. You’ll want to trim any shrubs or trees that are within a couple of feet around the air conditioning unit. This will help to ensure that they don’t block free airflow to the unit. Also, take the time to remove any loose debris, like leaves or twigs that are stuck around the unit.

Ensure the Unit Is Level

The outdoor compressor unit for your air conditioning system is likely installed on a large concrete slab. You’ll want to get out your level and put it on top of your compressor unit to evaluate if it’s level. If so, move on to the next step. If the unit is unlevel, you’ll want to add gravel or another medium under the low side to return the unit back to level. It’s vital that your unit is level for it to work at its optimal efficiency.

Take Off the AC Grille

Your outdoor unit will be encased in an AC grille. You’ll want to locate the screws that are holding the grille on and remove them. Most grilles can be easily pulled off of the unit and placed next to it. If you have wiring attached to the grille, you may need to remove it to clean your outdoor system components. Just be sure to snap a photo so that you can easily remember where the wires are supposed to go when you hook the grille back up.

Get Rid of the Debris

Once your outdoor unit is opened up, you’ll want to remove any loose debris inside of it. Using a wet/dry vacuum is the easiest way to clean out the debris. Next, you’ll want to locate the condenser coils and clean them with a coil cleaning solution. Pay special attention to the instructions on the label as this type of cleaner is usually caustic and may require special equipment to be worn during its application.

Take Care of the Fins

One of the most recognizable parts of the outdoor compressor unit is the metal fins. These are extremely sensitive to touch and will bend with little pressure. You’ll want to clean these fins with a soft brush and cleaner. Don’t attempt to use a pressure washer, as the water pressure will likely bend the fins out of position. Once clean, you’ll want to identify any spots where the fins are bent. You’ll need to bend these back out with a fin comb, which you can find at many local hardware stores.

Wrapping It All Up

Once the fins are straightened out and thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to reinstall your air conditioning grille. Be sure to reconnect any wiring that you disconnected before screwing the air conditioning grille back in place. Head back inside and turn the breaker back on for your AC unit. It’s advisable to turn your air conditioning system on and let it run for at least 30 minutes. This will help to ensure that everything is running right and it’s prepared for the long summer ahead.

AC Service You Can Trust

Cleaning your air conditioning unit can be time-consuming. You may just want to let it up to the experts at AC by J. We provide installation, maintenance, and repair for both heating and cooling units throughout the Scottsdale, AZ, region. We even can handle your plumbing and indoor air quality needs. Plus, when you contact the professionals, you won’t have to go through the hassle of dealing with it yourself, and you can rest assured that it’ll be done right the first time. Simply give us a call today!

company icon