Summer is here, and it brings rising temperatures and heat. The weather may be bearable outdoors, and sometimes, even pleasant during this time but often unbearable indoors. Whether it’s dry heat or humid heat, indoor environments can get quite unpleasant in the summers.
Perhaps your fan is no longer up to the task, and it’s time to turn on that air conditioner (AC). However, you most likely haven’t used your AC since last summer, which means it has been collecting dust, debris, and dirt for a couple of months.
Not only is this damaging to the components and lifespan of your air conditioner, but it also means that your AC might not start, work properly, or provide clean air. Often, using unclean and unmaintained air conditioners can also drive up your energy bills due to excess load and subsequent power consumption.
Today, we will discuss how you can perform a thorough cleaning of your AC so you have a well-functioning indoor cooling machine for the hot Australian summer.
In this guide, we will mostly focus on split system air conditioners, as they are the most common residential air conditioners. However, we will also touch on ducted air conditioners wherever applicable.
Cleaning Your AC for the Summer
We have come up with an easy, step-by-step guide for you to understand how you can clean your AC. Here’s what to do.
- Step 1 – Turn Off the Power Supply
This is an obvious but important one. Before handling or cleaning any electronic device or machine, you need to turn off its power, and air conditioners are no exception. Cleaning an air conditioner while it is running on connected to a power supply can be hazardous. You should avoid it at all times.
To turn off the power supply, find the power plug and disconnect it. Indoor units are often connected via hidden wiring in the walls, which means you need to find the power switch in the room, in the main electric panel, breaker box, or the home/office/floor.
You may need to find a shut-off box near the outdoor unit or compressor with larger ducted units. If you have trouble finding the power supply or switch, we suggest deactivating your air conditioning system at the breaker box.
Even if you find the power supply, you can do this to ensure no power is being run through your AC.
- Step 2 – Clean Your Air Conditioner’s Outdoor Unit
Whether a ducted air conditioner or split system air conditioner, there will be an outdoor unit known as the compressor. Check its surrounding area and get rid of any dirt, dust, grass, leaves, or trash that might have accumulated nearby. This helps prevent more dirt from going in as you clean the unit.
Then, use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior of the outdoor cabinet. You will notice a substantial amount of dust and dirt on it because it is out in the open. You may also use a cleaning solution but nothing too harsh. A light solution of soapy water is enough to remove any hard dirt and clean stains from the unit.
You will also want to remove all the dirt from the fan cage or grilles of the outdoor unit; this is where the majority of the dirt lies because the fan exacerbates the airflow here. Next, you want to open up the unit and get to the fan blades.
Reaching the fan blades requires some unscrewing, whether it’s a split system air conditioner or ducted air conditioner. The blades are not to be tampered with, so you want to be gentle when you use your damp cloth to wipe down the dirt from them.
Let them dry out. Once dried, you can use a soft brush or a refrigerator coil brush to clean the fins. You can use a fin comb to straighten out any bent fins you find. The soft bristles on a fin comb help clean the fins precisely as well.
If you cannot find a fin comb, you can use a soft brush for cleaning, but you have to be gentle.
Lastly, you want to clean the rest of the outdoor unit’s interior. The best way to do this is to use a vacuum cleaner with a small nozzle to pull out the dust and dirt precisely settled in the outdoor unit. That’s it! The outdoor unit or compressor is now clean, and you can piece it back together.
Note: Ducted air conditioners may have a filter in the outdoor unit that may need to be sanitized or replaced as directed in the user manual. It will depend on your model. However, this is not the case with split systems.
- Step 3 – Clean Your AC’s Indoor Unit
The indoor unit of your air conditioner needs care as well. You can start by cleaning its surface. Wipe down any dirt or dust using a damp cloth. Next, remove the front panel, and you will find two filters in your split system.
Gently remove them, clean them with a hose or soapy water, and set them aside to dry. Now comes the tricky part. Behind the filters, there are delicate air fins in your indoor unit. You will likely see dust clusters on it and perhaps some gunk.
Carefully use a vacuum to suck out the dust and dirt, but make sure your vacuum does not touch the fins as they are easily bent. You can also use a soft brush; however, you need to be careful and not bend the fins.
Next, move to the evaporator coils that run across the middle of your split system’s indoor unit. You can recognize them quickly, as they are rounded metal parts. There is likely some gunk here, so you may want to use a mild detergent solution to clean them.
Apply the solution using a spray bottle, let it soak for a while for effectiveness, and wipe down the gunk using a damp or soft cloth gently. A highly effective and hassle-free solution is to use a no-rinse coil cleaner instead of your homemade cleaning solution.
Another great tip is to use an antifungal cleaning solution after wiping down the coils to avoid the growth of fungi and spores in your indoor unit. This damp environment is perfect for such fungi to grow and harm your indoor air.
- Step 4- Flush Out Your Drain Line
Cleaning the drain line is an effective way to take off some of the energy-consuming load of your split system AC. The drain line is the hose that runs from the indoor to the outdoor of your AC. Gently disconnect it to start the flush cleaning process.
The best and quickest approach is to use a pressurized flush kit to run water or a mild soap solution through the drain line. It removes any clogs, gunk, and dirt from the line effectively. Just make sure to let it air dry completely after flushing it.
If you do not have a pressurized flush kit, run a mild soap or bleach solution through the drain pipe and clear it out. You may have to repeat this process a few times to complete it. That’s it. Put everything back together once it’s dried, and your air conditioner has been cleaned.
It isn’t too difficult to clean your air conditioner, and it is well worth it to keep it running smoothly, prolong the life of your expensive AC, and avoid overloading it to harm your energy bill. Not to mention the extra repair and maintenance costs that come with an unclean and unmaintained unit.
Of course, it is always best to hire professionals for cleaning your air conditioner because they will do a much more thorough and effective job than anyone else. However, following our guide, you should be able to clean it yourself to a respectable degree.
Summers are here, and this is the best time to do it before you start to use your AC regularly.