A How-To Guide for DIY Cleaning of Central Air Conditioners

A How-To Guide for DIY Cleaning of Central Air Conditioners

Like any piece of equipment that’s expected to see frequent use, central air conditioners require timely maintenance. By following these few simple steps, homeowners can enjoy the cool air and lower cooling bills throughout the summer!

What’s Needed for This DIY Project?

A How-To Guide for DIY Cleaning of Central Air Conditioners

A few simple tools are needed to maintain your air conditioners like a pro. Make sure that you have a pair of safety glasses, a 4-in-1 screwdriver, and a shop vacuum. It’s also great to have a garden hose with a sprayer nozzle, a whisk broom, and a funnel. These few items, combined with the instructions offered here, should be plenty to get you started!

Cleaning the Outdoor Air Conditioner

A How-To Guide for DIY Cleaning of Central Air Conditioners

Start by switching off the power to the outdoor central AC unit. The shutoff box is usually within sight near the outdoor unit. The main task is to clean the outdoor AC condenser coil. As the fan inside the unit pulls in air, it brings dirt, dust, leaves, and other debris. This can block airflow and lower the unit’s efficiency. Start by cleaning out the debris.

Cleaning the Outdoor Air Conditioner
A How-To Guide for DIY Cleaning of Central Air Conditioners

If the motor has lubrication ports, you can apply five drops of special oil made for electric motors that can be found in most hardware stores. The compressor and motor are usually sealed and likely won’t require maintenance. If the compressor is older and driven by belts connected to a separate motor, you can lubricate the motor by adding oil to the designated ports. Keep an eye out for oil or coolant leaks and call a professional if you notice any.

Start the Outdoor Unit Back Up

A How-To Guide for DIY Cleaning of Central Air Conditioners

When the outdoor air conditioners are clean, turn the power back on. Set the thermostat to the desired temperature and let the outdoor unit switch on. Listen to it working for a few minutes to check for unusual noises. After 10 minutes, check the temperature of the insulated pipes connecting the outdoor unit to the indoor evaporator AC coil. One should be cool (around 60 degrees) and the other (if you have a heat pump) should be warm (body temperature.) If they don’t feel right, have a professional check the level of refrigerant.

Cleaning Indoor Air Conditioners

A How-To Guide for DIY Cleaning of Central Air Conditioners

When cleaning indoor air conditioners, switch off power to the furnace, then replace the dirty furnace filters. Vacuum the bottom of the evaporator coil fins with a soft brush attachment. Vacuum any dust that had gathered in the blower cabinet. Next, check the condensation tube and make sure that algae and sludge didn’t form clogs. If you don’t have easy access to some of these parts, turn to a professional for timely maintenance.