Your air conditioner’s outdoor unit takes the brunt of the abuse from the weather. It works hard in the Phoenix summer heat, and it is subject to plenty of debris and other damage. Taking proper care of this system is an important part of keeping your home comfortable year round. That’s why we’ve put together this quick and simple guide for how to clean your AC unit and keep it in good repair.
Cleaning Your AC Unit
The first step in your air conditioner maintenance plan is to clean the outside portion properly. First, shut off the power to the unit at the box located on the side of your house. Then gently open up the access panel or fan cage on top so that you can see the tiny cooling fins inside.
Be very careful when cleaning these because they can be bent, smashed and damaged very easily. If you notice damaged fins, you can use a butter knife or a fin straightening tool to clean them up.
The best practice is to use a wet/dry vacuum to pull out any leaves or other debris in the bottom of the unit, and then use a hose to gently sweep away any dirt that has lodged between the fins.
When all of this is done, reinstall the fan cage on top and check to make sure that the entire unit is still level. An unlevel unit could cause refrigerant not to flow through the condenser properly, causing uneven pressure. Finally, use a rake to pull any leaves and other debris away from the outdoor unit so that it can breathe easily.
Checking the Lines
While you’re standing by your outdoor unit, you will also want to check the refrigerant lines coming into the condenser. Make sure that the insulating foam is still in good condition around the coolant line. If you pull the foam back, the line will be cold to the touch. The other line may or may not have insulation on it. You can use a wire brush to gently clean debris off the lines and make sure that there are no signs of leaks or other damage.
Replacing AC Filters
The next step in maintaining your system is replacing your filters. While your furnace filter is usually located inside your home, the blower filter will be outside. The blower filter is smaller than the furnace filter but usually thicker.
You should be able to identify where the filter is located easily, but if not, consult your owner’s manual on how to access the filter properly. You may need a screwdriver to remove an access door, but it should only take a few minutes to get the job done.
AC Drain Lines
In order for your system to function properly, it must be able to drain water outside of the home when condensation builds up. The drain line is usually a plain PVC pipe that is readily accessible and runs outside.
When the system is on, water should flow freely out of the line. Sometimes the line gets clogged. If you go up into the attic and clean the evaporator coil, you should see a drip pan that is sending water out the drain line. If water is building up in that drip pan, the drain line could be clogged.
You can try flushing it with air, or you can use a vacuum at the outside point to try and dislodge whatever is stuck in the line.
While these steps can prolong the life of your unit and keep your system working efficiently, there are some maintenance elements that you cannot complete on your own.
For instance, you cannot check your system for refrigerant leaks or recharge the unit on your own. It is best to call an HVAC contractor out to provide you with AC service in Phoenix if you suspect a leak or if you see any damage when you are cleaning the outdoor unit.
Day and Night Air can provide you with AC services throughout Phoenix if you are unsure of how to perform an air conditioner maintenance on your own. Our service plans include inspecting for leaks and cleaning the system properly to ensure proper functioning.
Don’t wait until something goes wrong to make the call!