The summer season has arrived and it’s the best time to think about cleaning your air conditioner to ensure optimum performance. You need your air conditioner cleaned for the best cooling during the hot days. The parts of your air conditioner have collected all the dirt, dust, debris for a year. All the dirt can cause your air conditioner to malfunction and also overheat in the process. It is not something that you want.
There would be more power consumption, and the parts might wear out as well. Before we move on to why and how you need to get your air conditioner cleaned, understand the basics of how an air conditioner works.
You must be well aware of the working of your air conditioner to keep it clean and maintain it properly.
The basics of an air conditioner
An air conditioner typically has the following parts:
- An outdoor unit- It has a fan, condenser coils, compressor, and electrical components
- An indoor unit- It has an evaporator, evaporator coil, and the air handling system
- Refrigeration lines, pipes, and drain pipes
- Refrigerant- A substance that runs through the indoor and outdoor systems
- Ducts- They provide air tunnels to various parts in your home
- Thermostat- Control system that maintains the desired temperature
The refrigeration lines have a refrigerant running through them. A refrigerant is a substance that circulates in the system. It gets pumped up from the compressor to the evaporator coil. The evaporator coils in the indoor unit of the air conditioner to absorb the heat from your room.
The condenser of the outdoor unit then disperses this heat. When the refrigerant reaches the evaporator coils, it absorbs heat. The evaporator cools and becomes a source of cool air. The air handler blows the air to the evaporator coil, giving cool air as a result.
The refrigerant turns from liquid to a gaseous state as it absorbs heat. It enters the condenser and gives off the heat outside through compressor coils. The compressor then again pumps the refrigerant to the evaporator coils.
The changing of refrigerant from a liquid to gaseous state and back to liquid state is called the refrigerant cycle. This ongoing refrigerant cycle releases hot air outdoor and cool air indoors.
Why is cleaning your air conditioner necessary?
The outdoor unit of an air conditioner gets the most dirt as it is situated outside. There could be dust, pollens, grass clipping, leaves, air pollutants and what not that buildup. The outdoor unit is responsible for releasing the hot air which was absorbed by the refrigerant. This ensures the continuity of the refrigerant cycle.
Keep in mind that the condenser fan blows air over the outdoors coils. If the outdoor unit is clogged, it will take a lot of refrigerants to release heat. Put it this way: If you are under a blanket on a hot sunny day, your body will not be able to release heat and will get overheated as a result. Sounds exhausting and terrible, right? Your air condition goes through the same trouble every year as it gets covered with dirt, dust particles and other things and can get overheated in the process.
Your air conditioner will take longer to release heat and cool your room. It increases your power consumption and wastes your money, which is not something that you want.
You should know how important evaporator coils are for the cooling performance of your air conditioner. They provide cooling in the hottest days. They are made up of copper and are surrounded by fine aluminum fins that readily transfer heat. Evaporator coils also dehumidify the air.
When the evaporator coils become dirty, they do not function properly. As they dehumidify the air, the coils become damp, and more dust and dirt particles stick to them. This could lead to reduced heat transfer and cooling. The coils would require more energy as a result; thus, the power consumption would increase.
This would increase the operating pressure, temperature and wear on the system. The air conditioner will get damaged or have a reduced life expectancy. There can also be the buildup of ice if evaporator coils remain dirty for very long periods.
The drains of your air conditioner must not get clogged. Drain channels that are clogged can disturb the dehumidifying of the air. Clogged drains also cause tripping of water on your floor and walls.
Your line/dust filter prevents the dust from getting into and out of the air conditioner. It gets thickly coated with dust. A dusty filter slows down the absorbance of heat from and movement of cool air into your room. This is why cleaning your air conditioner filters at least once a year can reduce the power consumption by 5-10%.
How to Clean Your Air Conditioner
You will need the following tools and objects to clean your air conditioner:
- An air conditioner cleaner
- A cleaning brush
- A vacuum cleaner (it should have a soft brush attachment)
- A water hose with a sprayer
- Foam cleaner
- Gloves and eye protection
- A stiff wire
- A screwdriver
You need to follow these steps for cleaning the outdoor unit of your air conditioner:
CLEANING THE OUTDOOR UNIT (COOLING FINS AND COILS)
- Turn off your thermostat
- Turn off the air conditioning through the electrical disconnect box of your air conditioner
- Remove the screws to open the cover of your outdoor unit
- Remove any piece of debris, grass clippings and leaves that you find. Use gloves to avoid touching anything sharp that can harm you.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with soft brush attachments to clean the cooling fins. Clean the fins with a gentle hand, so as not to bend them
- Use eye protection to keep any dust or dirt from entering your eyes
- Use the water hose to clean the fine dust particles and remaining dirt. You have to be careful during this step as high pressure of water can bend or damage the fins.
- Apply foam cleaner to the coils and leave it on for at least 10 minutes.
- Rinse the coils with water.
CLEANING THE LINE/ DUST FILTERS
- Remove the filters of your air conditioner
- Use the water hose to loosen up the layers of dirt
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush or a scrubbing brush to gently scrub off the dirt from the surface. Scrub with a detergent if the filters are very grimy and dirty
- Give a final rinse to the filters and leave them outside to dry
CLEANING THE EVAPORATOR COILS
- Remove the screws with a screwdriver to loosen up the access panel of your air conditioner.
- Open the access panel.
There are several ways for cleaning the evaporator coil of your air conditioner.
Cleaning with compressed air
Compressed air can be used to blow away the accumulated dirt and other materials that have stuck to the evaporator coils.
- Direct the compressed air on the coil, opposite to the normal airflow direction
- Start from the cleaner side and then move on to the dirtier side.
- Make sure the airflow is consistent across the coil.
- To remove a larger piece, direct the compressor nozzle on to the bottom of the debris
- Wear eye protection to protect your eyes and stay safe.
Cleaning with a brush
Brushes are commonly used for cleaning the evaporator coils of an air conditioner. Using brushes avoids using liquids and chemical cleaners. Cleaning coils with the brush is effective as you can apply as much pressure and scrub lighter or harder as you want, thus giving you more control over the process. Do not use hard brushes, such as wire brushes, as they might damage the coils and fins of your AC.
- Apply the brush on the coils to sweep away the dirt and accumulated particles
- Scrub harder where the coils are stained or some material has stuck harder to the surface.
Cleaning with a commercial cleaner
You can find many commercial cleaners on the market for cleaning machinery coils. Many of these cleaners are foamy and help loosen up the dirt and debris and wash it away.
- Apply the cleaner to the coils
- Wait for a few minutes. Allow the foam cleaner to loosen up the dust and debris and wash it away.
- Apply the cleaner again and wait for a few minutes
- Wipe with a cloth or soft brush
Cleaning with water and detergent
You can replace commercial cleaners with a soft detergent and water for cleaning the evaporator coils of your air conditioner.
- Mix some detergent and warm water and add it to a spray bottle
- Spray the mixture on the evaporator coils
- Wait for a minute or two to let the solution loosen up the debris
- Apply the solution once again
- Wipe with a cloth or soft brush
If the coils of your air conditioner are heavily soiled, you can use a heavy duty cleaner too.
CLEANING THE DRAIN LINE/PIPE
- Use a solution with equal parts water and bleach to clear the clogged drain
- Pour the solution in the drain and wait for 3 -5 minutes
- Pass a stiff wire through your drain pipe
- Clean the grooves on the inside wall of the pipe with the wire
- Rinse the pipe by pouring water in the pipe
With these steps, you can start cleaning your air conditioner like a professional and get the best results. Cleaning of an air conditioner takes time, but it gets your air conditioner working better and costs you a small amount. But if you feel you might not be able to clean your air conditioner properly, then get it done by a professional.
Maintaining your air conditioner
Keep in mind that your air conditioner needs good cleaning and maintenance on a regular basis. If you do not maintain it, you lose its worth, and your electricity bills will be higher as well.
To ensure proper maintenance of your air conditioner, here are some tips you could use.
- The most important part of maintaining your air conditioner is to get it cleaned once a year at least.
- You should check your air conditioner for any refrigerant leaks. If some refrigerant has leaked, discard it properly instead of throwing it away.
- You should check for any duct leakages. If there are any, you must seal them as soon as possible.
- The electrical components of the outdoor unit must be cleaned on a regular basis. The connections must be tight. Loose connections can cause accidental damage.
- Your thermostat must work properly. Check whether it works accurately or not.
With the steps and tips mentioned above, you can get your air conditioner cleaned every year. When cleaning your air conditioner, you have to be very careful. You have to make sure the delicate parts are not damaged during cleaning.
Any chemical or detergent you use should not damage the parts of your air conditioner. If you do not have time to clean your air conditioner or you fear you may not be able to do it properly, ask a professional to the job for you. It is better to get your air conditioner cleaned by an expert or a professional. They know their job well and have better equipment for cleaning than you might have.
If your air conditioner is beyond cleaning help and is in fact damaged, contact the team at Bulldog Adjusters for help figuring out if you have grounds for a claim! We’ll help you get the largest possible settlement from your home insurance company!