Even if you don’t suspect any major issues with your air conditioner unit, any professional air conditioner contractor believes that it is smart to have your unit cleaned and serviced once a year. This is to ensure that the unit operates at optimum efficiency and is ready to provide you with cool air during the times you need it most. You can clean your air conditioner on your own or hire a professional air conditioner contractor to do it for you.
Step 1 to becoming your own air conditioner contractor
Before anything else, you need to completely switch off power to the unit due to the dangers of working with the unit’s moving parts and of electricity. On the unit’s exterior compressor/condenses, you will find an exterior shut-off box. You also need to go to your home’s circuit breaker box and turn the power off.
Step 2 to becoming your own air conditioner contractor
Remove the fan cage on the unit’s exterior compressor/condenser. Remove the fasteners using a wrench or a screwdriver and carefully lift the cage away from the top of the air conditioner. Remove leaves and other debris from the unit’s interior by hand or by using a vacuum cleaner.
Step 3 to becoming your own air conditioner contractor
In order to get rid of any dirt and debris buildup between the fins, spray them through using a garden hose. It is not advisable that you make use of a pressure washer as the fins can be damaged by intense pressure. If the fins are particularly dirty, you can use a fin cleaning spray, which you can purchase from any home improvement store. Hiring a professional air conditioner contractor can save you from this hassle as they have the tools necessary for this procedure.
Step 4 to becoming your own air conditioner contractor
If there are any bent fins, carefully straighten them out using a fin-straightening tool. If you don’t have one, you can use a butter knife instead. Straightening bent fins is crucial as those can reduce airflow. Remember that you need to be careful when straightening the fins as you may damage the tubing embedded within them. As with the previous steps, this is a step that is best left to a professional air conditioner contractor.
Step 5 to becoming your own air conditioner contractor
Once done with the cleaning, carefully replace the fan cage to its original position. Get rid of leaves and debris found outside the condenser. Remove branches and other vegetation in all directions and leave a gap of at least two feet from the air conditioner. This is to ensure that airflow is smooth around the unit.
It is also recommended that you cover the top of the air conditioner with a piece of plastic or plywood to keep debris from falling in. This is best done during winter. However, it is not advisable that you completely cover the sides of the air conditioner as moisture can build up and cause corrosion. Also, vermin will likely build their nests inside of a completely covered air conditioner. When operating the unit, make sure to remove any cover.
Step 6 to becoming your own air conditioner contractor
Now, you need to clean the insides of the unit. Find the evaporator coil door on the inside blower/furnace unit. You will need to get rid of some foil duct tape and to remove several bolts or screws. Inside the unit, dust off the coil using a soft brush. Spray the coil using a no-rinse coil cleaner which you can purchase from any home improvement store.
The spray will then form a foam and will gradually drip into the drain pan. Clean out the pan using hot water mixed with soap and bleach. Next, pour a cup of solution of 1 part water and 1 part bleach down the drain. You can make use of drain pan tablet in the pan in order to keep the drain clear for a long period of time. This also helps prevent the growth of algae.
Step 7 to becoming your own air conditioner contractor
On the interior of the unit, warm, humid air from inside the home is blown through the air conditioners evaporator coil. The heat from the air is then absorbed by the cold coil before being released back into your home. The humidity in the air then condenses on the cool evaporator coil in the form of water. The water will then drip into a pan below and flow into a drain tube. The tube is usually routed into a floor drain in your basement, outdoors, or a utility sink.
Over time, the drain can be clogged by algae and mold buildup. If you notice the drain not flowing properly, it will need to be unclogged. A clogged drain can cause flooding onto the floor or cause the system to stop cooling if a drain float is equipped.
You can unclog the drain by finding the drain line. Generally, the drain is a one-inch PVC pipe colored black, grey, or white. Follow the drain line and see where it drains. Most of the time, the line drains outdoors near the condenser unit. However, the line can also drain into a basement floor drain or a utility sink.
Once you have located the drain, clear it completely using a wet/dry vacuum. It is recommended that you get rid of the paper filter from the wet/dry vacuum in order to avoid damaging the filter. Steadily hold the hose of the vacuum to the end of the drain line. Next, hold a rag around the gap or use duct tape. Turn on the wet/dry vacuum for about three minutes then switch it off; this will help clear the drain of any debris.
This step seems complicated for any homeowner; calling an air conditioner contractor for this one can save you from all the hassle.
Step 8 to becoming your own air conditioner contractor
The filter in your air conditioner needs to be changed at least twice a year (once a year if possible). If you reside in an area where it’s particularly dusty, you may want to change filters quite often. Make sure that you replace the filter with a new filter having the same airflow rating.
Look for the filter enclosure on the air conditioner. You will need a screwdriver to remove the latch and get into the filter enclosure. Get rid of the old filter and install a new one. Close and properly latch the door. You can switch on the unit now and start cooling your home.
Remember that it is fairly easy to maintain an air conditioner unit if you know what you are doing. If you are not technically capable of doing so, it is best that you hire a professional air conditioner contractor to do the job for you. Playing around with your air conditioner without the necessary knowledge will only damage your unit. You may end up spending more on repairs—or worse, have your entire unit replaced—if you end up damaging it. The small fee you will pay an air conditioner contractor is all worth it if you consider all the hassles you need to go through if you chose to perform maintenance by yourself.