How to Clean Central Air Conditioners - Maintenance Guide

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You may be wondering: Can I clean a central air conditioner unit myself? Yes, you can! Not only can you do light, general cleaning for your central air conditioner, it is recommended as it can prolong the useful life of your air conditioner. However, be careful not to hit or damage any component of your central air conditioner unit to avoid costly repairs.

How to Clean Central Air Unit: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Unplug Your Unit

The most important step is to unplug your air conditioner unit. Unplugging your unit from the electrical socket will prevent any accidental electrocution, and prevent you from damaging your unit or hurting yourself. Always unplug your air conditioner before you clean it.

Step 2: Clean the Condenser Unit with a Vacuum Cleaner

Use your vacuum cleaner to remove the debris and dust from your condenser coils. Use a fine-bristled brush to dislodge any stuck-on grime, or use a can of compressed air to clear the debris from hard-to-reach areas. Clean the condenser coils, evaporator coils, and condenser fins of your unit.

Step 3: Straighten the Condenser Fins as Needed

Use a blunt knife to straighten the condenser fins. The fins may wear down, warping or folding over as you use the central air conditioning system. However, exercise caution in this step as the fins may easily snap or break with excessive pressure.

Step 4: Remove the Fan Blades and Motor

Locate the fan unit, and remove the fan blades and fan motor to expose the interior fins. Because the fan is often connected to the rest of the unit, you may not be able to fully remove the fan unit. Try to bring the fan out of the outdoor unit as much as possible without snapping or straining the wires connected to the rest of the unit.

Step 5: Hose Down the Fan Unit and Condenser Coils

Take your garden hose, and hose down your AC coils. You may use a commercial no-rinse coil cleaner to remove excess grime, but a good spray down with your garden hose should do the trick just fine. Spray water over the outdoor condenser coils, condenser fan, interior fins, and the outside AC unit housing as well.

Step 6: Let Everything Dry

Let everything dry completely before piecing everything back together. It is best to clean your AC condenser unit on a hot day, as the warm air and sunlight will quickly evaporate moisture. However, you may also face a fan directly on the outdoor unit to dry it quickly. Piece the unit back together once everything has dried.

Step 7: Clean the Washable Filter

Move indoors in the meantime, and take the filter out of your ducts. If your filter is washable, clean it with some soapy water. Use a soft brush to remove the grime, and dry the filter with a wet-dry vacuum. If your reusable filter is not washable, however, you may use a shop vacuum to remove excessive amounts of dust instead.

Step 8: Clear the Drain System

To keep the cool air flowing from your unit, it is a good idea to clear the drain system. The evaporator coil creates condensation, which travels through a drain system to the drain pan. However, if the drain is clogged, the unit cannot drain the water properly. Clear the drains by looping a stiff wire through the drain system.

Tips to Maintain Your Central Air Conditioner

  • Replace the filter of your central air conditioner once every year, or every two years depending on the frequency of use, and according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Remove debris from your central air conditioning unit, particularly with the outdoor unit, which is exposed to outdoor elements.
  • Ensure your AC system is clear from any blockages. Pieces of furniture, plywood, or shrubbery that blocks airflow from your AC unit can cause the air conditioner to overwork, overheat, and break down faster.
  • Troubleshoot AC unit problems as they appear. Leaving the problems unfixed will cause further damages to your air conditioning system.
  • Call the professionals for a thorough cleaning and maintenance visit. Both the indoor vents and outdoor AC unit will need professional cleaning at least once every 4-6 months. Call our technicians at Luce Aircon for deep cleaning, and thorough maintenance checkups!

Professional Aircon Servicing

Central air conditioning units may seem complicated, but they work like most other air conditioner models. Thorough cleaning, frequent maintenance, and proper airflow around your unit will keep your air conditioner in good condition for a long time. Contact us at Luce Aircon for all your air conditioner needs, and we'll make sure your AC unit is kept clean!

For more AC unit maintenance tips, check out our blog - we've got buying guides and troubleshooting walkthroughs for a wide range of air conditioning models! 

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