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How to clean your air conditioner!

Woman cleaning living room indoors

We are definitely in summer mode here in Chicago! That means that residential air conditioners are going to be running and collecting a lot of dust and debris while it does its job.

But what if when you turn it on, it’s blowing warm or not cool air? Generally, air conditioning systems use the same mechanisms to cool your home: the air conditioner pulls in warm air from inside the home, extracts heat from it, and circulates the now-cool air through your duct system and into your home. This operation is done by the two main components of an air conditioning system: the condenser (the unit that’s housed outside your home) and the evaporator. Sometimes, when your air conditioner is blowing warm air, it may be that your condenser needs to be cleaned. Always check with your owner’s manual before doing anything on your unit. Below is a rundown on how to do so – but as always, if you need a professional, call us at (847) 503-9497 or contact us here

How to clean your air conditioning unit!

First, shut the power off to the unit – your manual will show you where the power disconnect switch is found. Now, make sure to turn off the circuit at your main electrical panel.
Wait a few minutes to make sure that all the remaining charge is gone and then unscrew and remove the top panel/grille as well as any protective side grilles. Take care because occasionally the unit’s fan is attached to the top panel. When you’ve removed these parts, you’ll see that the condenser coils are surrounded by flat panels, or fins, usually made from aluminum.

Once you’ve made space to clean, use a soft brush and gently wipe the fins and coils of any build up or debris, but be sure not to put too much pressure on them and bend the fins. Also, remove any loose build up from the base of the unit. Then, if needed, use a bristle attachment to vacuum away any remaining dirt or dust – again, use a soft touch and not the highest setting on your vacuum.

Next, cover the wiring and the motor with a plastic bag (a garbage bag would work fine) and duct tape, and carefully use a hose with a trigger nozzle to clean out the coils and fins. Again, don’t put too much pressure on the unit – use a low-pressure stream because the aluminum fins can be bent by water high pressure. Test it off to the side first. After the water has drained from the unit, remove the plastic covering.

If you did bend (or break) a fin – call us to have them fixed – we’re at (847) 503-9497!

Now, after you’ve finished cleaning the condenser, use a level to make sure that the unit is balanced properly so it drains as it should.

Lastly, turn the thermostat off before reconnecting the power to the unit. After the thermostat is turned off, restart the power to the unit at the main service panel and the disconnect box and then set your thermostat to cool. After a few minutes, find the two pipes connecting the outdoor unit to the indoor air handler. One of the pipes should be cool, and the other should be warm.

At any time should this process give you trouble, or you simply want a professional to handle it for you – give us a call at (847) 503-9497 or contact us here – we are the all-around go-to source for HVAC care this summer in Chicago! 

Woman cleaning living room indoors

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