If you have a central air conditioning system, then you likely understand that the system needs to be cleaned properly if you want cool air to blow into your home. However, if you have a gung ho attitude about cleaning, then you may actually do your AC more harm than good by making a few simple cleaning mistakes. Keep reading to learn about some of these mistakes and find out what you should do instead.
Using a Hose to Clean the Compressor
If the fins and the exterior of your air conditioner seem to be caked with dirt and debris, then you may find it tempting to simply hose off the entirety of the condenser. This is not a good idea. While the hose will help to open up the fins and clear the fan of debris, dirt may move into the condenser and solidify on the copper refrigerant lines. These lines need to come into direct contact with air so that the coolant can properly release heat. The coolant lines release heat outdoors after they pull the warmth from the air inside your home. The cooled air is then blown into your house. The coolant releases the heat, compresses, and moves into the house once again.
The condenser is built to help the coolant lines release heat. Air moves through the side vent fins, across the coolant lines, and up through the top fan. Heat is released through the copper tubing into the ambient air, but the lines may remain warm if dirt covers them. Warm coolant can contributes to condensing issues and the ability of the refrigerant to pull heat from the air. The result will be warm air coming through your vents, even though the AC unit is running.
To prevent a buildup of debris on the internal coolant lines, turn the power off to the AC unit and gently wipe the exterior casing of the condenser with a damp cloth. Clean the grate on top of the fan in the same manner. Once the grate is clean, use a screwdriver to remove the screws from the fan grate. Remove the grate and wipe the fan blades clean. Inspect the fan for screws that secure it to the sides or middle of the condenser. Release the screws and pull the fan out of the unit. This will allow you to access the insides of the metal fins.
To clean the fins, purchase an AC fin tool or a fin straightening kit. These kits contain a small handle with a variety of different heads that fit in between the metal fins of an air conditioner. You will need to find the head that matches the fins of your unit. Try the largest head first and work your way to the smallest until you find one that fits in the AC fins. Once you find the right one, start at the top of the unit and place the head of the tool in the top fin. Move the tool from the left to the right. When you do this, place a rag in your free hand and hold it against the back side of the fin to catch dirt. The fin tool will not only force out all of the debris, but it will open up fins that are bent to increase air flow and cooling efficiency.
Rinsing and Immediately Replacing the Filter
Central air conditioners have at least one filter that helps to remove dust, pollen, and other debris from the air before they are blown into your home. While most AC units have filters that are meant to be thrown away and replaced every few months, some have a washable filter. If your cooling system has one of these filters, then you can simply rinse out the filter when it becomes dirty. You cannot replace the filter immediately and think that the cool air blowing through the filter will cause the water to evaporate. Air conditioner filters are typically located in an enclosed, dark, and sometimes warm part of the duct system. Specifically, the filters are held at the very end of the ductwork that sits closest to the inside unit of the air conditioner. A filter in this area can remain wet for some time, and mold may grow on the filter.
To reduce mold concerns, allow the AC filter to fully dry for a day or two after washing it. Make sure to keep an extra filter on hand so it can be slipped into the system as you wash the dirty one.
If you need further help with any of these tasks or if you run into other AC issues, contact a representative from a company like A Absolute Plumbing & Heating.