How do I Clean an Air Conditioner?

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  • Written By: Kris Roudebush
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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A clean air conditioner can save you money. First, your unit will run more efficiently. Second, by preventing expensive repairs that could be avoided. Most people can clean an air conditioner in about four hours or so. Because cleaning your central air conditioning unit will reveal any major problems that your air conditioner might be hiding, you should consider cleaning it before you really need to use it.

There are two components of a central air system. When you clean an air conditioner, you should start with the outside unit. This is called the compressor or condenser and it may be square or round and located on a cement slab. The evaporator is the indoor unit and should be connected to the duct work, usually near the furnace.

First, when you clean an air conditioner, shut off the power to the unit. You should do this to at the thermostat inside the house. You should also do this at the power box, usually near the unit, located on the side of the house. Make sure that there are no tall weeds, grass, or other plants that might be growing around the unit. Tall growing foliage can block the flow of air which can wreak havoc with your air conditioner and your wallet. Take care through the summer to make sure that the plant life is carefully controlled around your unit.


You are now ready to clean an air conditioner unit. Some units need to be lubricated; check with your owner’s manual for your specific model’s requirements. You should start by vacuuming any loose debris, with a soft bristled brush attachment, from the outside of the coil fins. Remove the top of the unit and carefully set aside. Be sure not to over stretch any wires that may still be connected. Once you’re inside you can use a professional coil cleaner or simply spray the fins with a garden hose from the inside out. When you clean an air conditioner, thoroughly clean any clumps of dirt that turn to mud. Clean out the bottom of the unit and clean off the fan blades. If while you clean an air conditioner you should see a leak, call a professional. Otherwise, reassemble the unit and move inside.

The next step when you clean an air conditioner might be impossible or maybe just very difficult. You’ll need to vacuum the bottom of the evaporator or indoor unit. If you can’t get to the indoor unit, be sure to have that done once every two years or so by a professional. The next step is to change the air filter, probably located in the furnace. You want the air flowing into the ducts to be as clean as possible. Filters are usually a minimal cost but for a little more you can install a high quality filter which might help with allergens inside the house.

Finally, check the condensation tube probably near the furnace. Make sure that it’s not clogged. The tube may be flexible and easy to remove and clean. Clean hard tubes with a bleach solution consisting of one part bleach and 16 parts water, and pour into the tube. You can even help the process with a wire. Otherwise, it will need to cut off and rewelded. At that point it should be left to a professional.


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