Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Air Conditioner Maintenance

So its been really nice for the past week, and we've had the furnace OFF for the last week as well. Yay Energy/Gas Savings!

Its been perfect weather, that I haven't had to turn on the A/C either. However, it made me remember to get it ready.

I thought I'd outline the steps to get your Central A/C Unit ready for another summer of Cooling.
Doing these simple steps every spring can greatly prolong the life of your A/C unit... Saving you money!

Most people almost NEVER clean their Air Conditioner. The outside unit is basically just a big radiator, that dispels heat. If its dirty, it doesn't do its job well. It results in your A/C unit working harder, Longer, and your bills being higher!  Its super easy to clean.

I did a "big" clean this spring, as I doubt it was ever cleaned before I bought the house.

  • Make sure your Thermostat is set to "off" (instead of Heat or Cool)
  • Ensure the A/C fuse/breaker is Off on your breaker panel
  • Just for safe measure, Most A/C units are required to have a shutoff located outside, near the unit. Pull this.

Now that you're sure the A/C unit won't go on.

Now, Assemble your tools:

  •  A Garden Hose,
  • A wrench or ratchet with socket set (mine was 8mm) 
  • A shop vac, if needed. (or your good ol' hands)

Remove the 4-8 bolts/screws holding down the top grill. Your fan is probably attached to this.
Flip this grille/fan assembly over to access the very simple innards of your A/C Unit.

Now, use your shop vac/hands to remove all the leaves, crud, shingle bits from the inside of the unit. Be gentle with the shop vac - you don't want to damage/bend/break any of those delicate radiator fins!)

Once relatively clean, its time to break out the hose. Use the "jet" setting and blast at the radiator fins dead on, from the INSIDE of the unit. Once you've got it all covered, you can do the same from the outside as well. I don't know if a pressure washer is appropriate here - a regular old hose did fine.

Once done... you're done!

Put the grill/fan assembly back on, don't over tighten the screw/bolts, as they may strip.

plug/switch the circuit breakers back in. You're A/C unit is now Cleaner (and cooler) than ever.


and after!

Its hard to see from photos - But when you're looking directly through these fins, you can actually see through them. Before they were all gummed up with stuff.

Now would also be a great time to replace your furnace filter.

You don't have to go all out like this, you will be helping a lot just by hosing off the radiator from the outside!

Time to Chill out!


  1. “Most people almost NEVER clean their Air Conditioner.” -- There's so much truth in this statement. I was a living proof of it once until my kids all were became sickly. Unclean air was the reason, according to their physician. Habitual AC maintenance is important for a healthy environment.

  2. Some disregard the idea of giving their air conditioner the proper maintenance. They usually have this way of thinking: “My AC doesn't need it. It's still working at its best”. That being said, you should still provide it the proper care and maintenance it deserves. Keep in mind that like humans, ACs get tired as well. If you don't want to suffer, do what is right before you regret it.

  3. The average human takes 30,000 breaths and takes in more than 3,500 gallons of air each day. But is this air clean? Probably not. Indoor air is the most polluted air on the planet, and Residential AC maintenance are spending the majority of our time indoors.

  4. Cleaning it does make it last longer and work more efficiently, since those foreign elements inside the A/C unit can be a cause of its failure. On the other hand, proper maintenance is a must, especially when handling the movable parts of the unit. It would also be a good time to check the wiring inside to see if there are fried or frayed wires so you can do preventive measures.