How to Clean your Air Conditioner like a Pro
Jack Frost is nipping at our nose, and Santa Claus has just left. So, who in their right mind would be thinking about window air conditioners at this time of year?
Call me crazy, but I am.
It is a good time of year to start this project. First, it is a good winter project because, by spring, you will be too busy to think about this job.
Very little is required to clean a window air conditioner, except lots of patience. If patience is something you lack, then it is a job you should turn over to the local appliance serviceman.
·Tin can or container (old muffin tin works well also)
· Long-handled brush (an old toilet brush works well)
·De-greaser or spray detergent
·Selection of screwdrivers (Philips, Flat bladed, 1/4″ socket head)
·Fin tool (optional)
·New filter (if disposable type)
Let’s get started:
1. Start by removing the filter from the front grille. If it is hidden behind the grille, proceed to step 2. If it is a disposable filter, replace it with a new one. Other types are made in a plastic frame and can be cleaned and reused. To clean a filter, lay it flat in the sink and sprinkle the surface with powder laundry detergent. Then cover with about one inch of hot water. Just enough so the filter is submerged, and soak for 15 minutes. Remove from water and rinse with warm water. Hang up to dry while proceeding to the next step.
2. Next, remove the front grille from the main body of the air conditioner. They usually pivot on two spring clips at the bottom. It is usually removed by pulling the grille gently forward while pushing it down simultaneously. If there is resistance, then look for hidden screws. Look near the top edge of the grille or behind the control knob door. Once removed, place the grille aside until later.
3. Carefully remove the metal cover of the air conditioner to expose the inner workings. Once all the screws are removed, lift the cover straight up. Do not let it hit the other parts, as it can have sharp edges. This is where the old can comes in handy (an ice cube container or muffin tin works well also). Use it to keep track of all the screws you will be removing. An air conditioner will often use several different types and sizes of screws. Segregate them from each other, or confusion will result when we start reassembly.
4. Check the fan motor for any oil holes or oil plugs. If the motor has oil plugs, they are usually rubber. Use caution when removing because the rubber may have become brittle. Often they will break off in the oil holes resulting in a blockage. If this occurs, try to remove the broken plug by using a pin on the tip of a small screwdriver. Once the fan motor oil holes are exposed, add a few drops of oil to each end of the motor body. Use a general purpose (3in1) oil or clean motor oil. A #30 oil is sufficient. The natural tendency is to over-oil. Too much lubrication is as harmful as not enough. Therefore only 3 or 4 drops on both ends of the motor body are sufficient. Add the oil slowly, pausing a few seconds between each drop. If you add it too quickly, over-lubrication will result.
5. Use the brush to remove surface dust and dirt from the evaporator (front fins). Use an up-and-down motion. Do not go side to side or allow the fins to be bent. The fins are very soft aluminum and can be damaged easily. Once surface dirt is removed, spray with a de-greaser or cleaner. There is a good product on the market called HVAC cleaner. As the name implies, it is meant for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioner coil cleaning. If this is not available, the Fantastic Spray cleaner used in kitchens and bathrooms works quite well.
Let stand for about 15 minutes or as per instructions on the de-greaser can. This will allow the cleaner to loosen any hidden dirt. Remove dirt and excess cleaner by slowly pouring warm water into the fins. Do not allow the water to enter electrical connections or components near the coil. As an added precaution, cover the motor with one of the cloth rags. to protect it from the water.
Do not use any form of high-pressure air or water because this can drive dirt farther into the fins. Also, use extreme caution as these coils are filled with high-pressure refrigerant.
6. Straighten any bent fins. Use a fin comb if available. If there is no fin comb, use something soft such as a Popsicle stick. Straightening the fins will increase the airflow efficiency through the coils. This adds to the overall cooling effect produced by the air conditioner.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the condenser (rear fins) coil. A plastic cowling usually surrounds the condenser fins. If so, check the top edge to see if it will lift or open. If it opens, this will allow easier access to the condenser fins. Again use caution because the condenser coil is filled with high-pressure refrigerant.
8. Wipe any dirt buildup from both fan blades using a soft rag. Do not bend blades. This would cause a vibration that would harm the motor.
9. Vacuum all surfaces, including the front and back of the grille assembly. Do not forget to vacuum the underside of the metal-air conditioner cover. If the cover contains air holes, clean them thoroughly. If necessary, use a damp rag.
10. Drain any water left in the base and allow it to dry for a few hours.
11. When completely dry, plug in the air conditioner and test the operation. If everything appears okay, unplug and begin reassembly.
Reassemble and test:
12. Once reassembly is complete, retest the operation to ensure replacing the cover has not affected anything. Adding the cover will often twist the frame and cause interior parts to move out of alignment. This may cause the fan to become noisy. To correct this problem, remove the cover and realign it to the main body of the air conditioner. Reinstall the cover and test for noises every time 2 or 3 additional screws are added to the cover. Spinning the front blade by hand will let you know if anything is rubbing against the fan blades.
13. Install the front grille with the new or cleaned filter.
14. Lastly, cover the air conditioner with plastic wrap or an old blanket. Store in a warm, dry area. Raise it from the floor slightly by placing it onto a couple of pieces of wood. This will protect the floor from the metal edges of the air conditioner and the air conditioner from moisture.
Repeat this simple procedure every year. The machine will be ready for many more years of dependable service if you do.
The filter inside the front grille should be removed and cleaned (as in step 1) every month throughout the cooling season. If you are a smoker, it should be cleaned every week.
If you do not have the luxury of having central air conditioning in your home, you may find that you are spending more and more time in front of your refrigerator this summer to stay calm. If you have your choice of installing one window unit air conditioner, chances are that you will choose to install it in your bedroom. Would you like to know some helpful tips for AC installation? Here are 5 basic tips for installing a window unit air conditioner.
1) If you have an older or a huge air conditioner, you will find that it will rest on external brackets. However, most modern-day units will rest on sill-mounted supports. Ensure you follow the helpful tips for AC installation with your newly purchased unit. If the mounts are not installed properly, when you raise the sash, the air conditioner could fall from the window and damage not only the unit but everything that happens to be underneath it. Before you install your air conditioner, examine the window sill first. If it seems soft or even partially rotten, you may wish to replace the sill or look for another window in which to put your air conditioner.
2) You must screw one end of the bracket with your air conditioning unit into the window sill. A center screw must be adjusted to ensure the unit is level and to provide concentration drainage. If the frame of your window is metal, then to install the brackets, you must use sheet-metal screws. To set the air conditioner in place, open the window wider than necessary. Now follow the helpful tips for AC installation in the instructions that come with your unit. If your air conditioner is too heavy, find someone to help you lift the unit. As you slide the unit into the window’s opening, a pocket can be found underneath the unit, which will lock in place over the bracket.
3) When you put the air conditioner inside the window’s opening, you will find extensions on both sides of the unit that you will open out. This will close up any gaps between the window and the air conditioner. Fasten each extension to the window sash only after each extension fits snuggly against the window.
4) Most air conditioners are provided with angle brackets that will secure the two window sashes. This will ensure that they are secured over your air conditioning unit.
5) To seal the AC installed inside, use the foam strip that usually comes with most air conditioning units. This is done to fill the air gap where the window sashes overlap. Go outside to caulk the unit, check the owner’s manual for operation and maintenance, plug in your unit, and enjoy a wonderfully cool room.