Clean Your Air Conditioner Condenser for Efficient Cooling | Super Blog

Clean Your Air Conditioner Condenser for Efficient Cooling

Time: 2-3 hours

Summer may not be around the corner but trust us, it’s not too soon to clean your AC condenser unit (psst, that's that big metal box outside your home). Dirt, lawn clippings, and other debris can plug up the heat exchange and bring down the already power-hungry appliance’s energy efficiency. Follow these steps to clean your air conditioner condenser for efficient cooling when the weather warms.

What's in it for you?

  • Maintain your air conditioner’s energy efficiency
  • Stop stress on the condenser fan motor
  • Effective cooling in the sweltering summer days

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Clean Your Air Conditioner Condenser for Efficient Cooling

  1. Turn off the air conditioner and disconnect the condenser’s power. Find your thermostat and turn off the air conditioning, moving the selector switch from “COOL” to “OFF.” Now go outside to your air conditioner condenser and look for a box. It should be on a wall near the condenser — there will be a cable running between the box and the condenser unit. Lift the box’s front panel and disconnect the power to the condenser, either by flipping the switch inside to “OFF” or by pulling on a small handle to remove the block shutoff (set this aside for later).

  2. Tidy up around the condenser unit. Rake up leaves or lawn clippings and pull any weeds that might be growing near the condenser unit. That keeps the stuff from getting sucked into the unit and causing trouble later.

  3. Remove the condenser’s top panel. Put on work gloves, then find and remove all the screws around the edge of the metal panel covering the top of your condenser unit. Lift off the panel and move it to the side. Don’t worry if the condenser fan comes with it, just be careful not to damage the wiring connected to the fan.

  4. Vacuum any debris from the inside. Look down inside the condenser unit at the compressor pump — that’s the cylinder in the bottom with the metal tubing connecting it to the coils. Pro tip: If you see any oil around the base of the compressor, that’s a sign of a leak and something a pro will need to fix. Use a wet-dry vacuum to suck out any leaves or other debris that has collected inside and around the compressor pump.

  5. Vacuum dirt and debris off the outside of the condenser coils. Some condenser unit models have simple wire grills protecting the heat exchange — that wall of tubing and thin metal fins or bristles around the compressor. If so, you can vacuum the heat exchange coils from the outside, using a brush attachment. If your model has metal slotted panels covering its sides, you’ll need to remove them by finding and taking out any screws around the panels’ side and bottom edges. Then pull the panels away from the base and other panels and set them aside. Now you should be able to vacuum the outside of the coils using the brush attachment.

  6. Spray down the coils for a deep clean. Hold your garden hose and spray nozzle inside the condenser coils and spray the coils off to blast away the dirt from the inside out. Pro tip: If the coils were super dirty, spray them with your favorite multipurpose cleaner and let it do its thing for 10 minutes before spraying the coils.

  7. Straighten any bent condenser coil fins. PSA: Skip this step if your condenser coils have metal bristles on the tubing instead of fins. Take a table knife and use the tip to straighten any bent fins. This helps improve air flow through the heat exchange.

  8. Put the condenser unit back together. Replace the side panels and screws holding them in place, then replace the top panel and screw it back down. Now, flip the power switch on the wall box back to “ON” or snap the block shutoff back in place. Let the condenser sit for 24 hours before switching the air conditioning back on at the thermostat — that lets the compressor’s built-in heater make sure the oil inside is ready to go. Done!

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