How to Properly Clean Your Central Air Unit


Having your central air unit cleaned can cost up to $250 or even more. It’s an important maintenance step that can add years of use to your unit. It’s also a process that many believe that they have to call a professional for. But, you can clean your own central air unit and keep the money in your pocket!

We all know that you are suppose to keep the filters in the inside unit changed on a regular basis. But, you also need to clean the fins behind the filters now and then. You can either use a soft brush or the brush attachment for your vacuum to remove lint and grime.

If you have easy access to the blower, remove the cover and vacuum the inside. Now, is also a good time to oil the blower motor, you can purchase electric motor oil at most hardware stores. There should be small ports, these are like little holes to drip the oil into.

Central air units run on 240 volts of electricity, so you want to make sure the first thing you do is turn off the electricity! Usually the shut off box is located outdoors near your unit. If there’s not a box on the outside of your home, then you’ll need to switch the cricuit breaker off inside your home.

Some of these outdoor boxes will have a handle that you can pull down to turn off the electricity. But, some will pull out of the box and others are equipped with a fuse that you will have to remove to shut off the power.

The metal covering should just have a few screws that need to be removed to lift the cover off of the unit. Remove any grass or weeds from the condenser and use the soft brush attachment that came with your vacuum to clean the fins. The fins are made of thin metal so you need to be careful that you don’t bend them.

Next you will need to remove the grille on top of the unit. On most models the fan is attached to the grille. You’ll need to hold the grille up while making sure you don’t stretch or pull on the wires. You may even want to have someone hold it for you while you clean the unit.

Use the spray gun on your water hose to spray the fins. Hold the sprayer on the inside and spray outward, remove any debris, dead grass or insects that you can see. Then replace the grille, be very careful not to let any of the wires get caught underneath the edges.

Now you’re ready to replace the outer covering and screw it back into place. Don’t just turn the central air unit back on if the cleaning has taken four hours or more. Switch the thermostat to off, then turn the electricity back on to the unit and wait for 24 hours.

The compressor contains and internal lubricant, turning the power back on and letting it sit will give the warming element the time it needs to warm the lubricant. Once you’ve waited for 24 hours, set the thermostat to the cool position so that it will kick on.

While the unit is running, go back outside and listen for any strange noises. If there are noises, you can remove the metal cover and check to make sure that nothing has fallen inside it and make sure that nothing is near the fan blades. If you’ve heard any noises and can’t find the cause, then you’ll have to call in a professional to find the problem.

Cleaning a regular window air conditioning unit is just as important. Remove the filter and clean it with warm soap and water and vacuum the fins or use a soft brush to remove the lint and dust.

You will have to remove the air conditioner from the window to properly clean it. Remove the outer covering and make sure that you cover the electric motor and the wiring with plastic. Then use a water hose with a sprayer to spray the condenser coils.

It’s much the same as the cleaning method for a central air unit, except for a window unit you will need to spray from the outside in. Once you’ve cleaned the unit, take a old rag and wipe up as much of the water as you can.

If you have an air compresser use it to blow air into the fins to help in drying. You’re going to need to let the unit sit for several days to dry thoroughly and if there’s too much water sitting in the bottom of the unit it will start to rust.

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