Most homeowners never take the time to maintain their air conditioner. While it’s always a good idea to call a professional to perform air conditioner or home furnace repairs and regular maintenance, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do yourself to keep your air conditioner in good condition. In fact, you can actually clean your heat pump or ductless mini-split system’s outdoor unit on your own.
Here’s how to do it safely:
Prepare Your Tools
You’ll need these tools to clean your outdoor unit:
- Shop vacuum
- Garden hose
- Pipe cleaner or a brush with soft bristles
- Fin comb
- Replacement filter
Remove Debris Around the Unit
Get rid of any leaves, branches, pine needles, etc. that have built up around your outdoor unit. These can block airflow. If there are shrubs surrounding your unit, it’s a good idea to regularly trim them so they never touch it. Keeping the area around your unit clear is one way to avoid premature air conditioner or furnace replacement.
- Make sure the power to your unit is off. You can do this by flipping the breaker switch to OFF or unplugging the unit.
- Use a shop vacuum to remove dust, dirt and cobwebs from around the unit and the fins.
- Use your fin comb to straighten any bent fins.
- Refer to your manual to find the filter. If you have a reusable filter, clean it with your garden hose using a strong spray. For disposable filters, make sure to have a replacement filter available that’s recommended for your unit.
- Locate the access panel and take out the screws to remove it. Carefully place it aside and don’t get it wet.
- Vacuum the condenser coils to remove dust, cobwebs and debris buildup.
- Use your garden hose to clean the condenser coils after vacuuming them. Don’t use the strongest spray to avoid damaging the coils.
- To clean the fan blades, use clean, damp rags.
- Clean the fan vents with your vacuum and wipe away any buildup.
- Let the unit dry for a few minutes. Carefully wipe surfaces dry with a clean rag.
- Put the access panel back and screw it in place.
In most cases, this is easy to do. However, if you think the job is too challenging or time-consuming for you, call on a professional for deep cleaning.