There’s an important thing to remember as you’re enjoying the cool air from window air conditioning units on a hot Edmonton day – chilly air isn’t necessarily clean air. In order to enjoy a reprieve from the heat but at the same time have a clean atmosphere in your home A/C filters need to be changed frequently. Cleaning and changing the filters isn’t the only process you need to undertake though as wiping down compressors and other maintenance tasks will ensure your air conditioning units the longest life possible at maximum efficiency.
Take Out of the Window
One thing to remember when giving your air conditioning units a good scrubbing is to take it out of the window…and unplug it. You’re going to be using a lot of water to get all the dirt and debris out of the coils and internals of the A/C and you don’t want an electrical source anywhere in the vicinity – especially at the end of your air conditioner plug! It may sound like a no-brainer but there’s no way to evaluate the level of anybody’s DIY skills.
Remove and Examine the Filter
The best spot to clean out your air conditioner before putting it into the game full-time for the Summer is on your sidewalk. This way all the water that you use to spray the unit down can flow freely away and the slight bit of dish soap that you use can easily be washed clean. Once you’ve got your air conditioner unplugged and laying on the sidewalk, open up the front panel and remove the filter. Examining the filter will tell you how big of an undertaking this job is going to be.
A dirty filter is either the sign of insignificant storing over the Winter or a clue that a new piece is needed. When deciding on whether to replace your filter or just clean it, the recommended method is to err on the side of caution and just buy a new one. There’s really no sense in cleaning your coils and other components to maximize efficiency if you’re just going to reinstall a dirty, clogged filter.
Clean the Front Coils
Air conditioning units have two sets of coils, the ones in the front that cool the air and deliver it to your home and the ones in the rear that keep the A/C itself running smoothly. For the sake of argument it’s good to clean your front coils first. Depending on how dirty the winter storage area was and how filthy the filter was last Summer these coils could be caked in grime. On the other hand they may appear clean but it’s still a good idea to give them a good rinse.
It might sound weird but the coils of this electrical air conditioning unit are going to get cleaned off with a good old fashioned garden hose. A/C units, like washing machines, are meant to be around water and are sealed securely so that the electrical components won’t be damaged when wetted down. One important thing to remember as you’re spraying down the inside of your A/C is to keep an eye on the internal fins. If they’re starting to bend tone down the water pressure a bit, after all it shouldn’t take that much force to free up the debris.
After spraying down the air conditioning units with just water, next mix in a little mild dishwasher detergent. Soluble dirt and grime can be removed with just water but components such as grease and oil need a heavier concoction. When you cook and fry up food over the summer, those grease and cooking oil particles travel to your A/C and get lodged on the coils and need to be scrubbed off for maximum cooling efficiency. Squirt a minimal amount of the mild detergent on your A/C and spray it thoroughly until the suds dissipate.
*Note – even though the internal components of the A/C can be sprayed without harming the electronics, try and avoid getting to much water into the top of the unit by the controls and the fan as harm might occur if excessively drenched.
Clean the Rear Coils
Once the front coils are sprayed down and cleaned, it’s time to move to the back and free up the rear grime. The back coils are cleaned in much the same way as the front. First hose off the area with water from your garden hose. Next, dash a few drops of mild dishwasher detergent into the back and spray the unit down once again until the water becomes clear. It should be noted that a garden hose is the recommended tool of the trade for cleaning the air conditioning units. A pressure washer will likely damage the fins and is way too much for what is needed for this application.
Once you’ve cleaned out the rear of the air conditioning units take another quick pass over the front to get any suds that may have snuck there from the back coils. Now tip up your air conditioner and let the excess water drain out in the sun for an hour or two. You’ll want to clean the A/C before the temperatures get super intense because you’ll be without service until the unit dries safely.
Once you’ve let enough time pass you can wipe off the front of the A/C with a dry rag and even spray some compressed air into the vents and controls to ensure you’re installing as clean of an A/C unit as possible.
Some people prefer to perform this task at the end of the cooling season so next year all they have to do is take it out of storage and put it in a window. Others like the peace of mind of knowing the newly installed A/C is going to be spitting out the purest air possible and the coils and condenser will be working as efficiently as they can.
That being said, there’s no reason the air conditioning units can’t be cleaned both before and after the season – after all the process is far from strenuous.
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