DIY Guide to Cleaning Your Air Conditioner (Indoor & Outdoor Units)

Air conditioner unit opened for cleaningHaving your air conditioner breakdown when you need it most can be very frustrating. Unfortunately, this tends to happen in many households due to inadequate care and maintenance or mistiming of the same. Like any electrical unit, proper cleaning and servicing of your air conditioner is a must in order to keep it running smoothly. This is especially needed in places where hot climate is experienced for months at a stretch, thereby suggesting the overuse of cooling systems in the house. Nonetheless, all air conditioning units must be deep cleaned at least once a year to ensure proper functioning throughout the summer or a sudden heat wave. 

So how can you clean your AC yourself without the help of a trained HVAC professional? Well, you’re definitely going to need a thorough DIY guide to cleaning your air conditioner; one that includes steps to clean both the indoor and outdoor units of a split AC. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place because Maid For You has got you covered! Read on for all the guidance you need when attempting a DIY cleaning of your air conditioner.

How to Clean the Outdoor Unit of Your AC

outdoor fujitsu air conditioning unit

Before we explain how to clean the condenser unit of your AC, consider the location. Safety must be the number one priority here, hence, if the outdoor unit is fitted high above the ground, we advise calling in a professional to get the job done. On the other hand, condenser units that can be reached from the ground or from a standard household ladder should be cleaned as per the steps below. 

WARNING: For safety reasons, turn off the main power supply to the air conditioner before you start the cleaning process.

Step 1: Remove Dust from the Fins and Fan Blades

The condenser fins become caked with dust if not cleaned in a timely manner. This restricts the airflow, thus making your AC work harder to cool. In order to remove dust from the fins and the fan blades, you will have to unscrew and remove the outer panel of the unit.

NOTE: Some models may contain a separate covering over the fan blades which will also need to be removed in order to clean thoroughly.

Once you’ve removed the panel(s), use a soft brush to very gently knock off dust from the fins. Avoid using excess pressure as this may bend the fins. In a similar fashion, brush off dust from the fan blades, and remove debris collected at the bottom of the unit.

Step 2: Wash with a Water Hose

Spraying down the fins with minimal water pressure is the most effective way to clean them thoroughly. For this, hold the water hose inside the unit, and spray the fins to push the debris outward. If they are heavily soiled, purchase a foam condenser cleaning product to remove grime efficiently; the use of plain water will suffice if the fins are merely dusty. 

To clean the fan blades, dampen a clean cloth and wipe them thoroughly. Lastly, clean the bottom of the unit where dirty water may have the collected.

Step 3: Clean Inside the Electrical Unit

The electrical unit of the condenser contains wiring which must not be disconnected or tugged at as it may cause a loose connection. Moreover, there isn’t much to clean inside the electrical unit as it is properly concealed within the condenser unit. The only cleaning it may require is removal of dust which can be done safely and carefully using a soft brush, dusting cloth, or feather duster.

Step 4: Scrub Down the Panels

The removable panels of the condenser unit encounter a lot of dust, debris, and nasty stains, therefore, cleaning your outdoor AC unit is incomplete without scrubbing down these parts, too. Like the condenser fins, brush off the dust and then hose them down. Next, squirt some dish detergent onto a sponge and scrub away grime, paying close attention to edges or ridges. For stubborn stains, spray glass cleaner over the area and allow it to soak for 10 minutes before scrubbing off the stains. 

Before you screw the panels back on, soak up excess water with a towel to allow the interior to dry up quickly.

How to Clean Your Indoor AC Unit

Modern airconditioner unit service cleaning the filter to preven

You’ve probably learnt how to clean air filters in your air conditioner, and why it’s important, but when it comes to maintaining the overall functioning of your indoor unit, more needs to be done. There are important internal parts of your AC unit that require cleaning or else, you run the risk of costly repairs in the long run due to dust and dirt clogging the interior. 

Follow the steps below to safely clean your indoor air conditioner unit.

Step 1: Remove and Clean Air Filters

To remove the air filters and clean inside the unit, you will have to take off the front panel, or open it by lifting it up (depending on the model). Clean the filters with a vacuum cleaner or brush; remove as much dust as possible so that the rest can be washed off with ease. Be sure to clean both sides of the filters thoroughly. 

Step 2: Clean Off the Evaporator Coils

There are plenty of commercial products on the market to clean an air conditioner’s evaporator coils quickly and efficiently; however, if they aren’t too soiled, a mild solution of soap and water will suffice. Begin by knocking off dust with a coil brush; then apply your homemade cleaning solution with a spray bottle, or the commercial product as per the label’s instructions. After a few minutes of sitting time, dampen a clean cloth and wipe the grime away.

Step 3: Clean Out the Drain Pipe

Sometimes blockages occur in the drain tube which cause havoc to the functioning of the unit. To ensure that this does not happen with your AC, you will need a wet and dry vacuum cleaner to suck out any existing dirt and debris from the drain tube. In order to do this successfully, place the hose of the vacuum just inside the tube (or vice versa), and keep it running while holding the pipe firmly in place for about two minutes. 

Step 4: Dust Out Remnants of Debris from Inside

Using a feather duster, carefully dust the interior of your indoor air conditioner unit. Any stubborn grime you stumble upon can be removed with a clean damp cloth. Finish off by wiping the front panel and remaining exterior of the unit before closing it back up. 

After you have cleaned the indoor and outdoor unit of your air conditioner, it’s time to test it! Turn the main power supply back on, and keep the AC on for a good half hour. In this time, observe the level of cooling, and check for unfamiliar smells and sounds. Upon discovering anything unusual, turn the AC off and contact a local HVAC technician to have it checked for any problems.

Whether you decide to attempt this DIY guide to cleaning your air conditioner or opt to call in a professional for the job, it is critically important to clean your AC at least once a year, perhaps as part of your seasonal house maintenance. This will help keep your air conditioner in tiptop condition for years to come so be sure to make annual AC cleaning a priority in your household!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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