During the summer months air conditioners take a beating, running steadily in many parts of the country. Like any piece of equipment, air conditioners require periodic maintenance to operate at their peak efficiency. There are a minimum of steps to maintaining an air conditioner whether it is a portable window unit or a large unit sitting on a slab outside your home.
Air conditioner maintenance
- The condenser coil, the one that is usually toward the outside of the unit, collects dirt, grease, insects, and debris and needs to be cleaned frequently.
- You can use compressed air to blow off the surface of the condenser coil. You can also use a soft brush to loosen the bugs and other debris and then blow it off.
- Be sure to inspect the fan blades that blow air across the coil. Dirt collects here as well. A buildup of dirt and grease can throw the fan blades out of balance. An out-of-balance fan will run noisily and eventually it will ruin the bearings in the fan unit.
- You can clean the fan blades with a cloth and a solution of dish detergent and warm water. If you cannot reach parts of the fan blades with this you can use an old toothbrush dipped in the solution to reach those difficult areas. Use a minimum of water to avoid the possibility of an electrical shock. If possible, it is best to remove the fan blades to clean them and then reinstall them in the unit.
- You will need to clean the interior coil also known as the evaporator coil just as you did the condenser coil.
- There is a filter inside the air conditioner unit that must be cleaned as well. If you just rinse the filter off with a hose dirt will be trapped inside the filter pleats and it will still offer resistance to airflow causing your air conditioner to run hot and inefficiently. It is best to use a pressure washer to blast that stubborn dirt out of the filter pleats. If one is not available, you might be able to use the pressure washer at your local car wash.
- Inspect the motor and fan bearings and oil the motor bearings with one or two drops at the most of a good quality light machine oil.
Make sure the outside of your air conditioner is not obstructed. Move all furniture away from the immediate exterior of your unit and trim all brush and shrubbery so that it does not interfere with air conditioner operation.
Do not use any water at all to clean the interior of your air conditioner.
While servicing your unit, inspect it for frayed wire, broken connections, damage to the coils, refrigerant leaks, and damaged or loose panels.
Discuss this and other Home Improvement Topics in our How To Forum