Summer in Oklahoma is right around the corner and now is the time to clean and prepare your air conditioning unit for the hot summer months. You can call an HVAC company to clean your unit, or you can roll up your sleeves and do most of the work yourself.
Step 1 – Turn off your A/C unit
Always turn off your A/C unit before doing any cleaning. For the inside furnace and air handler, this can often be done by simply unplugging the unit from the wall outlet. In some cases you will need to turn off the unit at your breaker box.
Step 2 – Clean or replace air filters
Most central HVAC units have air filters that go in the top of the unit. These are typically easy to remove and either replace them with new ones, or if your unit requires, clean it outdoors with a water hose. If you are unsure which size filter to get, just remove one and take it to Home Depot or Lowes – they typically have replacements available for most size A/C units.
Step 3 – Vacuum indoor air handler
While you have the air handler open, use a soft bristle brush on your vacuum cleaner and vacuum up any dust, spiders or debris inside the unit. Normally the filters will catch any dust but sometimes it can get past the filter and settle in the bottom of your air handler.
Step 4 – Clean outdoor compressor
This step is a little trickier. It is best to disconnect the compressor from power, usually done by turning off an outdoor breaker or removing a fuse on the wall box beside the compressor.
Once power is off to the compressor, clean any leaves, sticks and debris from around the outside of the unit. If debris or lint is stuck to the outside fins, very carefully remove the lint or leaves from the cooling finds. Be very careful – these fins are delicate and easily damaged. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft bristled brush if necessary to remove debris.
Once all the debris around the compressor is clear, use a water hose to spray from inside the compressor to remove any built-up debris from the fans. Basically spray from inside the compressor outwards. You should take great care and not direct any water towards the electric motor or any electronics on the compressor. It may be easier to remove the grill on top of the compressor so that you can direct water to the correct places inside the compressor. If you are unsure of what you are doing, it is probably best to leave this step to an experienced professional. Spraying water on an live electrical circuit can be very dangerous, and water sprayed into an electric motor or electronics, even if powered off, can cause expensive damage to your compressor.
Step 5 – Wait 24 hours then turn unit back on
The compressor needs to be completely dry before turning on the electricity, so it is best to wait overnight for everything to dry before turning back on your A/C unit. This is one reason it is best to clean the compressor in the spring before the summer heat makes it unbearable to go overnight without cool air conditioning.
For more information on cleaning your HVAC system, check out this article on Wikihow.