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How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

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As my buddy walked up the driveway, he noticed my condenser (the exterior unit of my central AC system), which was caked with dirt, grass and even a few dead insects. He gave me a look that said, "You're an idiot." Then he gave me a sermon that only a heating/cooling engineer like himself could deliver. I didn't understand most of it, but I got the key point: When the fins surrounding the unit are dirty, the fan can't efficiently suck air through them and the whole system has to work harder to cool the house. That costs money in the form of higher electricity bills and future repairs. Since then, I've cleaned my condenser every spring. It's so easy that a kid can do it in about 20 minutes.


Shut off the power

Step 1:

Cut off the power so the fan can't cut off your fingers. Your power box may have a switch inside or a block that you pull out to cut the power.

Vacuum the fins

Step 2:

Vacuum the fins with a brush attachment. Be gentle so you don't bend the fins; they aren't much tougher than tin foil.

Rinse off the fins

Step 3:

Unscrew the fan grille, set the fan aside and rinse off the fins. Dial down the water pressure so you don't damage the fins. Put it all back together and pour yourself a cold one.

 — Gary Wentz, Senior Editor

Springtime central air maintenance

How to cover up your AC unit in the fall

How to clean a window air conditioner


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  • Comments
    • by posted on

      It's a good piece of article sharing information about how to clean AC yourself. Most of us rely on the technicians to do this, but these simple tips shared here will help the readers. If you have to remove fan wires, just remember where to put them back onto the correct terminals, otherwise leave the wires intact if possible. Some are long enough to work around without removing.

    • by posted on

      You're probably familiar with covering the AC unit in the fall, but did you know that you can protect your AC unit after you've had it cleaned? Permatron's PreVent Wrap-Around AC filter traps airborne particulates before they enter the air conditioner condenser.

      This washable filter comes in a one size fits all model. Simpy wrap the filter around the outer perimeter of the air intake fins and secure in place with included bungee cord attachments. When needed, brush filter clean with a stiff broom or shop vac.

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