Keeping your air conditioning unit outside clean and free of debris is one of the best ways to make sure that your air conditioner runs well for a long time to come. In fact, cleaning the outdoor unit of your air conditioner has a whole variety of benefits, including lower energy bills, fewer repairs, and a longer lifespan. Follow these helpful steps to keep your outdoor AC unit in great condition.
Replace the Filter
If you want to ensure that your air conditioner has as much clean air flowing through it as possible, you need to replace the filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This should be about once every three months or once per season, but it can be more often for a variety of reasons. For instance, if there’s a lot of dust and allergens in the air, or if someone in your residence suffers from allergies, you might choose to replace it more often to improve the air quality.
Check the Lines That Run to the Air Conditioner Unit
You need to check the lines that run to the condenser unit on the outside of the house to determine whether or not it has enough insulation. Rodents and other animals can sometimes use insulation to make their nests, but insulation can also be damaged simply from wear and tear along with weather elements. If you notice that the insulation is damaged or that there’s a gap between the wall or outside air conditioner unit that doesn’t have insulation, you should replace it. To complete this fairly easy process, get some insulation from a home improvement store, cut it to size, and wrap it around the cords.
Trim Back Bushes
If you have any bushes growing near the outdoor AC unit, it’s essential that you cut them back so that there’s plenty of room for the air conditioning unit to pull in air. Trimming back the bushes during the spring and fall is smart because there’s a lot of growth that can happen over the summer. In fact, you should have plants and vegetation no closer than within a 3-foot distance of your outdoor air conditioning unit. You can also check for any low-hanging branches that could fall off of the tree in a storm and potentially damage your air conditioner. Vines and tall grass are other types of debris that you might have to contend with. If you have a quick-growing vine or another type of plant that will likely overgrow its space within the season, you might think about removing it and replacing it with something less invasive.
Keep Structures, Fences, and Other Materials Away
Along with ensuring that your plants are far away from your air conditioning unit, you should also make sure that fences and other structures are far enough away. It’s common and even useful to have some kind of fence around your outdoor unit because it can dampen the sounds, which is especially nice if you enjoy spending outside time in the summer. But if you have a fence or wall that’s too close, it can struggle to pull in enough air. Additionally, you should never put anything on top of the unit because that can impede airflow as well.
If you don’t already have a fence or wall and are thinking about building one to block some of the noise from your air conditioner, make sure that you take the time to plan exactly where you’re going to have it. Consider consulting an air conditioning expert to ensure that you maintain the correct spacing.
Keeping debris away from your air conditioner will help improve its efficiency. For instance, it’s common for seeds from trees to fall on an air conditioner, especially in the fall. It’s also common for branches to fall during storms, and leaves often drop during autumn. Birds and rodents can make their nests close to air conditioners for added protection and warmth, too. All of this dead material can make it more difficult for air to flow through the air conditioner. It’s worthwhile to pull any leaves, sticks, and even cobwebs from your air conditioning unit at least once a season so that it is able to work unrestricted.
Wash the AC Unit
When you want to wash your outside AC unit, you should also take a hose to spray down the outside air conditioning unit so that you get rid of any large chunks of dirt that could be clinging to the outside panel. It’s also worthwhile to use a proper cleaning agent if you have problems getting the unit clean with just a hose. The right cleaner for an air conditioner can usually be purchased at a home improvement store. To use this type of cleaner, you’ll spray it on and typically wait for five to 10 minutes before spraying away the foam. Be sure to follow the directions to ensure proper cleaning. If you prefer to forgo the store-bought cleaning agent, you can also make a mixture of soapy water to remove dirt. Then, take the hose and spray it off.
When you’re doing this process, make sure that you don’t use a stream of water that’s too strong as it could potentially damage your air conditioner. It’s tempting to use a power washer, but this could cause serious problems due to the strength of the stream of water. Instead, use the garden hose without the attachment. If you need a little bit of pressure, just place your thumb over the end of a regular hose without an attachment to get the pressure to be slightly stronger so that you can wash away some of the dirt.
Straighten the Fins
This is also a great time to make sure that all of the fins on your air conditioner are straight so that air can flow through them easily. The fins on your air conditioner often get bent for a variety of reasons, including branches and other objects hitting the side of your air conditioner unit. When fins are bent, it’s harder for the AC unit to suck in fresh air, which can lead to higher electricity bills. To straighten the fins, all you need to do is get a thin comb from the home supply store and use it as instructed. You likely won’t be able to get all of the fins completely straight like they were when they were new, but the aesthetics aren’t as important as the access to free-flowing air. This is best done by a qualified HVAC technician.
If you are looking for simple tips on how to maintain your air conditioner or need more specific services and advice for your HVAC, give Specialty Heating & Cooling LLC a call. We do work on homes and commercial businesses and provide maintenance, repair, and installation services in Tigard, OR and the surrounding areas. Additionally, we offer ductless systems and water heater solutions. Financing is also available. Contact Specialty Heating & Cooling LLC today to learn how we can make home maintenance easier for you.