Before the weather gets too hot, it’s important that your AC unit be in top condition. Dirt, grime, and other problems like dried grass or algae can cause the unit to work harder than it should, lowering its efficiency and shortening its lifespan.
You should always call a licensed and certified technician if your unit needs service or repair, but a relatively handy homeowner can do the cleaning him or herself. That being said, if you have any concerns, don’t try to do the job yourself, simply call an experienced technician to do the job.
The first thing to do is change the filter on your AC. Turn off the power, either to the unit or at the box, and remove the cover. Before installing the new filter, visually inspect the unit. If it’s dusty or grimy, use a soft dusting cloth or a soft bristle brush on your vacuum to clean it. If you don’t clean it now, it will only wind up in your filter, shorting the life of the filter. When the unit’s clean, install the filter and cover and turn back on the power.
The next step is to clean the outdoor unit. There are two parts to the outdoor unit, usually on the other side of the wall or in the crawlspace of where the outdoor unit is found. Start with the half that’s inside.
Turn off the power, then remove the grill from the blower compartment. Vacuum up any dust and debris that’s inside, and oil the unit with the specified oil per the instructions in your AC manual.
Next, remove the plastic condensation tube and check for algae or other blockages. If you find some, rinse it out with a bleach solution and use a pipe cleaner to scrub it if necessary. Then clean out the drain tube with the pipe cleaner. Finally, put it all back together and restart it to ensure that it works.
Now, head outside to the outdoor AC unit, bringing with you a screwdriver, a vacuum with a brush attachment and a garden hose. Turn off the power, then vacuum the condenser fins (all the little vents on the outside of the unit). Make sure all the grass clippings are removed, so that air flows freely.
Next, remove the top grill, take out the fan (being careful not to damage any electrical parts) and wipe down the fan with a damp cloth. If the manual indicates the fan uses oil, add a few drops.
Then, lower the hose inside the unit and rinse out all the fins, using a medium pressure spray. Put the unit back together, and if necessary, cut back any foliage or grass closer than two feet.
You will want the unit to dry thoroughly before it is started again. Waiting 24 hours is best. After the unit is dry, turn on the AC and allow it to cycle for ten minutes to check for proper operation. If the unit doesn’t start cooling, you may need your coolant levels adjusted, so consult a professional.
Air Handlers OBX: Your air conditioning expert in the Outer Banks. Call Us At: 252-491-8637.