- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Garden hose
- ordinary dinner knife
- Rubber gloves
- Shop vacuum
- Electric motor oil
Things you can do and when to hire a specialist in Sydney
Chances are that if you’ve neglected a spring checkup, your air conditioner isn’t cooling nearly as well as it could. A year’s worth of dirt and debris clogging the cooling fins, a low coolant level, a dirty blower fan filter, and a number of other simple problems can significantly reduce the efficiency of your a/c condenser and wear it out faster.
You can’t do everything; only a pro can check the coolant level. But you can easily handle most of the routine cleaning chores and save the extra $120 that it would cost to have a pro do them.
In this article, we’ll show you how to clean the outdoor unit (called the ac condensers) and the accessible parts of the indoor unit (called the evaporator). All the steps are simple and straightforward and will take you only a few hours total. You don’t need any special skills, tools, or experience. If you aren’t familiar with air conditioners and furnaces/blowers, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the basics. See “Parts of an Air Conditioner,” below, to become familiar with how an air conditioner works and the parts of the system.
You may have a different type of central air conditioner than we show here—a heat pump system, for example, or a unit mounted horizontally in the attic. However, you can still carry out most maintenance procedures we show here because each system will have a condenser outside and an evaporator inside. Use the owner’s manual for your particular model to help navigate around any differences from the one we show in our photos. And call in a pro every two or three years to check electrical parts and the coolant level.
Tip: Call for service before the first heatwave, when the pros become swamped with repair calls!
Parts of an air conditioner
The outside unit, called the a/c condenser, contains a compressor, cooling fins and tubes, and a fan. The fan sucks air through the fins and cools a special coolant, which the compressor then pumps into the house to the evaporator through a copper tube. The coolant chills the fins and tubes of the evaporator. Warm air drawn from the house by the blower passes through the evaporator and is cooled and blown through ducts to the rooms in the house. The evaporator dehumidifies the air as it cools it, and the resulting condensation drains off to a floor drain through a tube. The blower unit and ducting system vary considerably depending on whether you have a furnace (shown), a heat pump, or some other arrangement. It may be located in the basement, garage, furnace room, or attic.
Clean the condenser step by step guide
Turn off the power
Turn off the electrical power to the condenser unit at the outdoor shutoff. Either pull out a block or move a switch to the off position. If uncertain, turn off the power to the air conditioning condenser at the main electrical panel.
Vacuum away debris
Vacuum grass clippings, leaves, and other debris from the exterior fins with a soft brush attachment. Clear away all bushes, weeds, and grass within 2 ft. of the ac condensers.
Realign bent or crushed fins with gentle pressure from a dinner knife. Don’t insert the knife more than 1/2 in.
Remove the fan
Unscrew the top grille. Lift out the fan and carefully set it aside without stressing the electrical wires. Pull out any leaves and wipe the interior surfaces clean with a damp cloth.