The Average Homeowner’s Guide to Cleaning & Maintaining Air Conditioners

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While most people around the world are gearing up for a cold, winter Christmas, back in Australia, homeowners are getting their cooling systems in order for yet another summertime Christmas season! 

Although a lot of people use air conditioning throughout most of the year with winter being the exception, when summer rolls around, you definitely want your split AC to be in tiptop condition. How? Well, annual HVAC maintenance by a professional technician is definitely recommended, however, the average homeowner is certainly capable of carrying out DIY AC cleaning and maintenance to keep recurring expenses to a minimum. Above this, you will also be able to prevent costly repairs by keeping your cooling system in perfect running condition.

So, if you’re unsure about how to clean your split air conditioner, or the maintenance measures required to keep up its performance, we’ve got all the information you need right here!

Safety Precautions for DIY AC Cleaning & Maintenance

      1. Turn the AC power supply off before you begin.
      2. Make sure your AC has been off for at least 30 minutes before cleaning.
      3. Inspect the compressor tubes and pipes for any damage; seek professional assistance if found.
      4. Once opened, check for leaks or pools of water which indicate internal freezing; if found, contact your HVAC technician immediately.

How to Clean the Condenser Unit

It may seem like a tough or complex job but it really isn’t. That being said, if your condenser unit is out of reach or installed high up, it is strongly advised to allow the experts to handle it as they ensure complete safety when cleaning and servicing outdoor AC units on a height. 

For a condenser unit located on the ground (or close to the ground), follow the steps below to complete a thorough DIY clean:

      1. Unscrew the top panel and grate that protects the fan, and keep it aside (there may be another panel to unscrew and remove before you can get to the fan and fins). If you have a car vacuum cleaner or a regular one with a narrow attachment head, use it to clean up debris from inside the unit. Alternatively, a sleek, soft-bristled brush can be used to remove dust and dirt from the fan and fins. 
      2. Next, use a water hose to efficiently remove dirt from the internal unit that is separated from the electrical unit (spray from the inside to push dirt out). Minimal water pressure is advised when washing your condenser fins as they are generally thin and prone to bending. Once you have done this, use a cloth to wipe and clean up the fan blades and the base of the unit. If you come across damaged or bent fins, gently straighten them out using a flat-head screwdriver or butter knife.
      3. For the electrical unit, dust off debris with a feather duster or soft-bristled paintbrush. Avoid pulling out or loosening wires as you do this.
      4. Hose down the removable panels and wipe them dry before screwing each one back on. 

How to Clean the Indoor AC Unit

While cleaning and replacing the filters is something many homeowners have become accustomed to, there is a lot more that goes into cleaning and maintaining your indoor AC unit. Keeping it running smoothly requires thorough and careful cleaning of certain internal parts that professionals typically pay attention to. 

Here is how you can clean the indoor unit of a split air conditioner:

      1. Depending on your model, the front panel should either lift upward or be unfastened to remove altogether. Once open, unhook and remove the air filters; vacuum both sides before washing it thoroughly under running water.
      2. Now that the evaporator coil is in plain sight, clean it with a soft, narrow brush. Follow this up with a thorough clean using a specially formulated coil cleaning product. Simply spray on the cleaner and allow it to run down to the drain pan. This can be cleaned off later on with a soapy solution and a damp cloth.
      3. The drain tube is the next thing you need to clean just to ensure that there is no blockage. Locate the end of the pipe and use a wet and dry vacuum to clear out the tube. This may take a minute or two, however, it’s important that you allow the vacuum to run for this long, holding it steady to remove any hidden debris.
      4. Replace the removable part after wiping them down with a damp cloth, and close the front panel. Switch the power back on and turn and test the AC by leaving it on for a good 15-20 minutes. Check for any unusual noises/odours; if you observe something out of the ordinary, give your HVAC technician a call.

Important AC Maintenance Tips

Cleaning your split air conditioner units is one of two jobs that is required to keep up their overall performance. The second is all about AC maintenance tips that help the units run smoothly for years to come. Remember, cleaning and maintenance go hand in hand when it comes to taking care of your air conditioner.

Take a look at these crucial AC maintenance tips you should carry out henceforth:

      • Replace Filters. Cleaning your AC filters is a must, however, that doesn’t mean they needn’t be replaced with new ones every 2-3 months. This is because no matter how many times you clean the filters, they will never be as efficient as new ones which, in turn, causes the AC to struggle to push out cool air.
      • Inspect Ductwork. If there is any leakage in your ductwork, your AC will not work efficiently at all. Therefore, it’s important to do regular inspections of your ductwork and call in a professional if damages are found. Alternatively, you can seal your air conditioner’s ductwork yourself by using a duct sealant or HVAC tape.
      • Clean Coils Regularly. Dirty coils are yet another reason why your AC could be working harder and, subsequently, increasing your utility bills. Therefore, it is advisable to clean the coils and fins with a soft brush at least twice a month.
      • Increase the Temperature Before Leaving the Room. The benefit of increasing the temperature is that it uses less power while cooling the room at a slower pace when you aren’t in it. When you come back to the room, chances are that the temperature will be at a desirable level. 
      • Clear Obstructions Around the Condenser Unit. Plants, branches, and bird nests should not be within 3-4 feet of the condenser unit. Be sure to keep a check on this and remove any obstructions immediately so that no hindrance is caused to the functioning of the unit.
      • Have Your AC Serviced Professionally Annually. While the tips above will help keep your air conditioner up and running smoothly for the most part, only an HVAC expert can give it the overall maintenance it requires via annual servicing. Moreover, these technicians are experienced in detecting minor damages and, subsequently, repairing them before they turn into large, costly ones.

 

Just because it’s summer, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a cool Christmas at home! So, while you’re getting the rest of your house ready for the Holidays, don’t forget about your precious, much-needed cooling system! 

Karen Saunders

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