Keep Your AC Running Smoothly With These Five Maintenance Tips

Posted on: 6 April 2015

A dirty air conditioner won't run efficiently, and it may spread dust or other allergens into your home. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to keep your air conditioner clean and running smoothly. Here are five cleaning tips to integrate into your air conditioning repair and maintenance routine:

1. Clean or replace your air filters regularly

Ideally, you should change the filter on your air conditioner before the cooling season starts and at least once every month during the cooling season. If you have central air conditioning, the filters should be located somewhere along your return duct's length in the walls or ceilings or in the air conditioner itself.

You can clean your filters by removing them, vacuuming them and washing them in soapy water, or replacing them. In most cases, filters have a ranking between 1 and 12. The higher the rank, the better filtration you receive, and the lower the rank, the easier it is for air to flow through your system. If you want to save money on cooling costs, get a filter with a lower efficiency ranking, but if you have allergies or air quality concerns, opt for a higher ranking.

2. Scrub your condenser fins at the beginning of the cooling season

Before the cooling season starts, you should clean your air conditioner, and ideally, you should start with your condenser fins. These metallic blades can become dirty from dust, debris, cotton from cottonwood trees and other outside elements.

In most cases, you will be able to see the fins as soon as you unscrew and remove the metal box covering the unit. To clean the fins, turn off the power leading to your unit and scrub the fins gently with a wet sponge, taking care not to bend or damage them. If the fins are already bent, you can straighten them using a butter knife, or you can buy a special fin comb. If they are excessively bent, you need to call an air conditioner repair person so he or she can repair them.

3. Vacuum the inside of the condenser

Once the fins of the fan are clean, unscrew them so you can reach the inside of the condenser. This area tends to collect dust, and it may even have the remnants of mice nests or mouse droppings in it. Just use the extension on your vacuum to gently vacuum the interior of the condenser.

4. Take steps to reduce air conditioner dust and debris

So that your air conditioner is easier to clean next year, you may want to take some steps to protect it throughout the year. For example, if your air conditioner is outside, make sure you keep the weeds and grass around it trimmed. This allows for adequate air to get into the unit and that reduces the amount of dust that builds up in the unit.

If possible, consider covering the unit with a tarp when not in use to further protect it from dust and debris during the off season.

5. Have a professional assess fluids and ducts

Although you can easily do most of the cleaning tasks listed above, you can also outsource them to an air conditioner technician if you don't want to do them yourself. Additionally, you should have a professional check your AC fluid levels on a regular basis.

An air conditioning technician can make sure you have the right amount of refrigerant, and he or she can check for leaks and repair them. He or she can also measure airflow, inspect electrical currents and deal with other specialty issues. Your technician can also ensure the motor is well oiled and that the ducts are clean.