How To Clean An Air Conditioner – Forbes Advisor

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Residential air conditioning units help maintain a comfortable temperature during warm weather months. However, if it seems that the efficiency of your air conditioning has taken a hit, you don’t need to turn on the heating. Learning how to clean your air conditioner rather than calling in a professional can save you money and return to a comfortable, cool temperature.

For most homeowners, installing an air conditioner (air conditioner) is a great investment because it keeps things comfortable inside when the temperature outside rises. It’s an investment, though: New air conditioners cost an average of $5,000 to install. Of course you want to keep that air conditioner in top condition for as long as possible. Regular, proper maintenance of the air conditioner can help extend the life of the unit and keep it as efficient as possible.

PRO TYPE: When you buy your next air conditioner, make sure to ask for specific instructions on how to clean it.

When to clean an air conditioner?

Ignoring air conditioner maintenance is directly related to increased energy consumption and cost. To stay on top of cleaning your air conditioner, replace the filters every month or two during the months the air conditioner is in use. Even with regularly replaced filters, the air conditioner’s evaporator and condenser coils will still collect debris over time. At least once a year, you should visually inspect the coils to see if they have accumulated any dust or debris.

If the coils have collected dirt, it’s time for a cleaning. Another indication that your air conditioner is in need of a cleaning is if your utility bill is higher than in previous years, which is a sign that your air conditioner’s efficiency has declined.


  • Screwdrivers (both flat head and Phillips in different sizes depending on the unit)
  • Leather gloves
  • Shop vacuum
  • rags
  • Water hose with spray attachment


  • vin kam
  • Household cleaner
  • Electric motor oil
  • No flushing A/C cleaner approved by the unit manufacturer
  • Foil duct tape (optional)


The full task will take a few hours, so it’s best to do it if you’re not in a rush and the weather forecast looks good with the device outside. The process requires fine motor skills and it can be helpful to have an assistant.

1. Turn off the power

The biggest safety risk when cleaning your air conditioning unit is the risk of electrocution. Therefore, the essential first step is to turn off the power to the air conditioning unit in your home’s circuit breaker, not just turning off the power to the unit itself. Double-check that the power is off before continuing to clean.

2. Open the outside of the device

Using the appropriate screwdriver, remove the door to the evaporator coil. You may need to remove foil duct tape to access the door. In that case, replace the duct tape with new tape at the end of the project. Make a note of which screws go where so that you can reassemble the unit securely at the end.

3. Clean the evaporator coils

To clean dusty or dirty evaporator coils in the air conditioner, start by using the suction hose attachment to remove as much debris as possible. Then apply the approved air conditioning cleaner evenly to the coils. The rinsing solution cleans the coils and washes away on its own when the unit is turned on again.

4. Wipe the drip tray

After applying the no-rinse spray to the spirals and letting it soak for a few minutes, wipe the drip tray with household cleaner.

5. Clean the fan motor

Wipe the fan motor with household cleaner and rags. If there are any plugged oil ports, remove the caps, apply a few drops of trolling motor oil and replace the caps.

6. Comb the mats

More than a cosmetic problem, bent cooling fins can limit the efficiency of the air conditioner. Kits of various sizes of fin combs are available online; determine which comb is the right size for your device before proceeding. Using the correct fin comb while wearing leather gloves, straighten out any bent cooling fins on the outside. You can spray them one last time with the hose.

7. Replace the filter

While this is a task that should be in your monthly home maintenance routine, it is a good opportunity to replace your air conditioning filter. Some filters are reusable if properly washed. If you are replacing a disposable filter, make sure it has the correct airflow rating for your device.

8. Close the access panel

After cleaning the inside of your air conditioner, carefully replace the access door using the screws set aside. Replace any foil duct tape, but avoid covering device specifications that should remain visible.

9. Clear area around the device

Cut back branches, shrubs, weeds, etc. within 60 cm of the air conditioner. Using gloved hands, remove any debris that may have accumulated around the base of the unit.

10. Turn the power back on

When the job is done, turn the power back on at the circuit breaker and enjoy the improved cooling performance of your freshly cleaned unit. Remember to replace your filters regularly and check the cleanliness of your unit to ensure it continues to run smoothly.

When to call a professional?

If there appears to be a problem with the air conditioner that has not been resolved by cleaning the unit, it is best to hire a professional HVAC technician to diagnose the real problem. If cleaning an air conditioning unit is beyond your comfort level, most HVAC companies offer cleanings for a fee.

While you don’t need a lot of specialized supplies to clean an air conditioner yourself, there are upfront costs if you have to invest in tools and materials. The project will also take several hours. In comparison, the national average costs of regularly cleaning or maintaining the air conditioner are: $100 to $150.

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