Your central air conditioning system is soon to be awakened from its winter slumber, so it's time to do some spring cleaning. This will involve both indoor and outdoor cleaning. Dirt, leaves, and assorted muck can be clogging your outdoor compressor unit, while your blower filter, ducts, and vents may be contaminated by accumulating dust and hair from both pets and humans.
Dirty air conditioning components will decrease the efficiency of your system, forcing it to work harder to keep your home cool. This results in higher utility bills and may also cause the air conditioning unit compressor to overheat, which could result in a shutdown and costly repairs.
Outdoor cleaning: your compressor unit
The most important part of your compressor to be cleaned is the fins. These are the metal mesh that transfer heat from the condenser and out of the compressor unit. If these fins are dirty, warm air cannot pass through them, causing the unit to lose efficiency.
The first thing you will need to do before you begin to clean the compressor is to shut off the power. Locate the breaker for the compressor at the main circuit panel and shut it off. If you have a disconnect outside near the compressor, shut that off also in order to be extra sure that no power is flowing to the unit.
If weeds or shrubs have grown around the compressor, or leaves and other clutter have accumulated, remove them first. Then remove the grills and top cover by unscrewing them from the unit.
After the protective grills and covers are removed, you can begin to clean the fins. Use a soft brush to clean away contaminants from the outside of the fins. After covering the motor, fan ,and wiring with plastic, use a hose to spray the fins from inside the unit. This will push out any dirt or other debris that is embedded inside the fins.
Indoor cleaning: your air delivery system
If your delivery system is dirty, the cooled air can't be distributed throughout your home. Replace the furnace filter that is located on the side of your furnace by the blower motor. Hot air from the home will be drawn through this filter to the evaporator that is located in the plenum (box) on top of your furnace. The air will then be cooled and passed through your home.
Check the size of your filter before you go to purchase a replacement. The size will be printed on the side of the filter. Remove all the vents in your floors and walls and vacuum inside the ducts. Clean the vents and be sure to replace them in the open position.
Cleaning your heating and air conditioning delivery system will not only improve the efficiency of the system, but will also improve indoor air quality. Problems with your air conditioning that extend beyond simple cleaning should be handled by a qualified heating and air conditioning repair specialist, especially those involving refrigerant, which can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.