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Air Conditioning  Maintenance Guide

Cleaning the Condenser and Compressor
The condenser is one of the most critical parts of the air conditioner system and you need to keep an eye on it for faults and mishaps. The condenser is typically found outside, but depending on the type, it can also be located in the garage or attic. It usually has copper tubes, which are sometimes covered by a foam layer, running from it to your house. It works by the process of heat transfer, cooling the air blown inside and drawing warm air out from inside the house. You need to run a regular air conditioning service schedule to keep it in top condition.

Step 1 – Power Off The Unit/Mains
You need to make sure that power is not running through the unit when you are going to clean it. You can get this done either by removing the breaker/block or by moving the switch to the off position. If you think that is hard to do, you can also turn off power to the air conditioner condenser at the main electrical panel.

Step 2 – Clear debris and areas around the unit
The condenser fins are where most of the debris will get stuck, and you need to carefully clean this away. Ideally, you could use a rough paint brush to remove the debris that is easy to dislodge. After this, you could clean the finer debris with your vacuum cleaner and the brush attachment. You also need to keep the area surrounding the condenser free from plant growth or other objects at least a 2 ft radius around the unit.

Step 3 – Clean And Straighten the Air Conditioner Fins
Sometimes fins accumulate a lot of gunk and dirt which are not easily removed with a brush. Instead, try using an old dinner knife to effectively scrape any stuck on debris between the fins, and to reshape any fins that are bent.

Step 4 – Cleaning the Condenser Fan
This is also an area where a lot of dust and debris can accumulate over time and it needs to be cleaned at regular intervals. There are chances for leaves also to get stuck here. The easiest way to get it cleaned is by wiping it down with a damp cloth and then letting it dry in the sun.

Step 5 – Cleaning Fins Inside Out
The easiest method to clean the fins is by spraying water with a garden hose or even better, equipped with a hose nozzle. This removes a lot of dirt that wouldn’t have been dislodged with earlier methods. You need to take care that you don’t get water on the fan motor. If your fan motor doesn’t come with sealed bearings, then you can check your fans lubrication as well. A few drops of electric motor oil (don’t use other oils) should do nicely.

Cleaning the internal unit (Evaporator and Blower)
The evaporator unit installed indoors is what heats or cools the air inside your house. It works with the air conditioner or the heat pump to keep the internal temperature comfortable. Evaporator coils get dirty over time which affects the rate at which it cools or heats the house. They need to be cleaned regularly so there are no drops in efficiency.

Step 1 – Clean the Evaporator Coil
The evaporator coil door is usually found inside the blower/furnace unit and a lot of dust and debris get accumulated. You can use a soft brush to get dust out of the way to start with and then spray it with a no-rinse coil cleaner – this liquid will help get rid of deposits and other gunk off the coil and improve its efficiency. You can also use mild detergents and water to get rid of the dirt between the coils.

Step 2 – Clean the Evaporator Drain
Sometimes the evaporator drain gets clogged due to the buildup of algae and mold, and it needs to be unplugged. A clogged drain can cause flooding which damages the floor or if equipped with a drain float, causes the unit to cease functioning until it is drained of water. Clogging can also cause a bad odor to emanate from the unit. The drain pipe is usually an inch-wide PVC pipe which either drains inside (sink or utility drain) or outside (near the condenser unit). You can use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to get rid of debris in the evaporator drain.

Step 3 – Change Blower Filter
Changing your blower filter is something that is dependent on where you live. Dusty environments necessitate an additional change of filters. Your HVAC system blower filter needs to be changed out at least twice a year. And ideally, this should be just before the “heating” season starts and then another time, right before the “cooling” season. Something you need to look at is that the airflow rating of the existing filter and the new filter element should match. The filter is usually found in the enclosure at the end of the fresh air return duct. Removing this from the enclosure is simple.

If you’re done with all the steps above, your HVAC and AC unit should be a lot cleaner and more effective at controlling the temperature. You can now turn on the power and test if it is working correctly.