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Air Conditioner Cleaning & Maintenance

When summertime comes, being able to count on your air conditioner functioning well is a high priority. You need to know that the cool blast will be there for you on a sweltering, sweaty day.

Choosing the right air conditioner is the best first step that you can take to ensure that you have all the cool you need during the hottest months of the year. But once you’ve purchased an AC unit, there are more steps to take to maintain your air conditioner unit so that it keeps running at its best.

Keeping your air conditioner unit in ship shape is not only important for safety, but also for your budget. A well-maintained air conditioner will run more efficiently, saving you money. Plus, you can increase the longevity of your system by doing regular upkeep as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the different air conditioner maintenance strategies that you can use to ensure it is running in the best way possible.

AC Maintenance –– The Basics

From year to year, your air conditioner experiences normal wear and tear, but often times any issues that can be forming in your unit are not directly apparent.

Don’t wait until there’s a problem with your air conditioner to work on it, though. By conducting this maintenance every year, you can avoid most issues that often come up in prolonged usage.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner

The first and most obvious way that you can keep your air conditioner working properly is to deep clean the unit, both before and after the hot weather season. Over time, dust and other particles from the air begin to build up in the unit, causing it to work extra hard, and even pump allergens and the like into your home.

If you’re a seasoned DIYer, air conditioner cleaning should be no problem for you to do yourself. However, if you don’t feel confident about doing so, it might be worth calling in a pro.

Here are some basic steps on how to clean an air conditioner:

  1. Make sure your air conditioner is turned off.
  2. Wipe down the exterior of the unit to remove any dust, debris, leaves (if outside), etc.
  3. Depending the the type of AC unit, there are different parts that you should clean. Here’s a list of the different parts per each different type of AC:
    • Central AC
      • Compressor/condenser
      • Evaporator
    • Mini Splits
      • Cooling fins
      • Coils
    • Single Room Units
      • Coils
      • Oiling ports
      • Air filter
  4. Use the correct foam, spray, tablet, of whatever cleaning type your owner’s manual suggests to clean the unit.
  5. Once cleaned and dried, turn unit back on.

There are many different foams and sprays available for cleaning these different types of units, including coil cleaner tablets. If you aren’t sure what you need to clean yours, consult your owner’s manual.

Replace pieces

Even the cleanest of air conditioners sometimes need to have some of the pieces replaced.

One of the most common parts that need replaced in an air conditioner is the air filter. Over time, dirt and dust from the air get trapped in the filter, causing the unit to work harder.

Luckily, cleaning and changing your air filter is a fairly simple process. If you are able to rinse and reinsert your air filter, that’s your best bet. But if the filter is extremely dirty and rinsing it out isn’t doing the trick, you may need to get a new one.

But air filters aren’t the only pieces that need replaced. Other parts of the unit get worn over time, and need to be changed. Below are a few of the most common pieces of air conditioner units that often need replaced:

  • Contactor
  • Start/run capacitor
  • Fan motor
  • Blower motor
  • Compressor

Depending on how expensive it will be to replace these parts and how old your unit is, you may want to consider buying an entirely new air conditioner in lieu of replacing pieces.

Tighten pieces

You might notice at some point in the lifespan of your air conditioner that it starts to make a rattling noise –– this problem is often due to pieces that have come loose in the machine.

Do a check throughout your unit to see that the following pieces are well secured:

  • Compressor
  • Air handler/fan motor
  • Blower wheels
  • Exterior/interior panels

Other common maintenance checks

Apart from these common issues encountered with air conditioners, there are other routine checks that you can do to keep your air conditioner running smoothly.

  • Tighten electrical connections
  • Check the unit controls to see they are working properly
  • Inspect the drains to see that they are emptying
  • Lubricate moving parts

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but covers some of the main issues that people often run into with their AC.

Tune-ups from HVAC specialists?

During your maintenance, if you come across some of the common issues often encountered with air conditioner units, such as freezing, it might be time to call a specialist, or even get a new unit if the repairs are extremely costly.

As mentioned above, if you are not an avid fan of DIY, conducting much of this maintenance might seem a little daunting. If you find yourself among that group, you might consider scheduling an annual tuneup from an HVAC specialist.

While changing a filter and doing basic cleaning can be done by most folks, more intricate work such as tightening electrical connections, lubricating the parts, and checking the refrigerant charge and the like could be left to the pros.

While annual system maintenance by a professional is not necessary, it can be a huge help in increasing your energy efficiency, avoiding unit breakdown, and keeping your energy bills lower.

Maximize the Lifespan of Your Air Conditioner with Maintenance

Everyone wants their air conditioner to last as long as possible, and function properly so that they stay comfortable during many years worth of warmer months.

By taking the time to conduct regular maintenance on your unit, you can maximize your energy efficiency while extending the lifespan of your AC unit.

Even for novice DIYers, cleaning the unit and the air filter is the best place to start, as dirt and debris buildup in the machine is a common culprit. From there, replacing and tightening pieces can often address some of the other issues that often come up with air conditioners. However, unless you feel very comfortable working on your unit, these maintenance tasks may be best left to the pros.

A great way to make sure that you’re maintaining your air conditioner well is to schedule a yearly system maintenance checkup with an HVAC specialist so that you can have peace of mind that your system is in the best shape possible.

Or, if you are at the point that maintenance might not do the trick, you might be ready for a new system. Total Home Supply has a myriad of different air conditioners to choose from, so that you can keep your cool all summer long and beyond.

Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

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