Specific maintenance steps are required for your air conditioner to operate at peak efficiency. Periodic cleaning of the outside air conditioner condenser is a task you can do yourself. Here’s how to keep cool.
Why cleaning the condenser is important
Air conditioning works through the principle of heat transference. Inside your house, return vents draw air from the rooms and process the heat to the condenser coils at the outside unit. The condenser dissipates the heat into the atmosphere with assistance from a cooling fan.
Because the condenser coils are exposed to the elements, dust, mowed grass, leaves and other detritus collect on them. As this material accumulates, the coils have difficulty transferring the heat out of your home, and your air conditioner operates less efficiently.
The air conditioner condenser needs periodic cleaning. You can call an HVAC professional to do the job, but if you feel comfortable with a DIY project, you can do it yourself.
The condenser coils are a series of metal fins tightly fitted side by side in a fine grid. They are very delicate, and you must not scrub them. Even light pressure can bend and dent the fins.
- To clean the air conditioner condenser yourself, first, turn off the air-conditioning unit, then turn off the electrical breaker at the wall beside the unit outside. Test to ensure the power is disconnected by turning on the unit. It should not run.
- Next, remove the cover on top of the unit housing. Then unscrew the mounting of the condenser fan to get unimpeded access to the coils.
- Use a cleanser such as Nu-Brite, which you can find online or at the home improvement store. Follow the label instructions to mix the concentrate with water in a spray bottle. Next, spray down the coils on the outside of the unit. Allow the cleaner to stay on the coils for five to 10 minutes.
- With a garden hose and nozzle set to a gentle shower, rinse the coils completely from the inside toward the outside, using a top-down sweeping motion to push the dislodged dirt down and out of the coils. The spray must be gentle. A hard spray can bend and dent the coils. Keep rinsing until the draining water is clean.
- Afterward, replace the fan exactly as you removed it and restore the housing cover. Finally, restore power at the breaker, then turn on the air conditioner to test it.
Congratulations! You performed a vital home maintenance task yourself!