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How to Clean Aircon

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If there’s one good thing about buying an air conditioner in the Philippines, it’s that you have a range of choices available to you. The market is filled with everything from window type, split type, to portable air conditioner units, all from different brands. However, buyers don’t often think about what comes after. How to clean aircon units is an important question, and one we want to answer today.

Ways to clean an air conditioner aren’t often discussed, but it’s something that each unit will need to go through. Regardless of how many self-cleaning features your air conditioning unit has, eventually you’ll need to have it cleaned thoroughly. Below is a short guide to air conditioner cleaning and how it works.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Air Conditioner?

First off, why is it so important to clean your air conditioner? The answer to this has to do with the makeup of your unit itself. Air conditioners contain air filters which filter out particles like dust and debris. These filters keep the internal machinery of our air conditioners safe, as well as protect us and others at home from harmful dust and other bacteria.

While specialized filters may differ per model, every air conditioner– whether a window air conditioner, split type air conditioner, cassette type air conditioner, or portable air conditioner– will have an air filter. A filter will require regular service after installation, because dust and other particles will build up on the filter as it’s used. 

The air filter isn’t the only part of the aircon that needs maintenance. Dust can also build up on parts like the evaporator, condenser coils, or cooling fins. If the build up of dust and debris is too heavy, the air conditioning may struggle to maintain its usual temperatures. 

This can eventually lead to the unit overworking itself and breaking down, requiring repair and service. Not cleaning your aircon can lead to a shorter lifespan for your air conditioner’s parts, higher electricity bills, and poorer air quality and temperature for your household.

How Often Should My Aircon and Air Filter Be Cleaned?

Most experts recommend that air conditioners be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year, preferably more. However, if you want to prevent the build up of dust and reduce long term strain on your machine, you can remove your air filter for a gentle clean every one or two months.

Air conditioners can be tricky, and if improperly maintained can cost much more in repair fees and energy costs. The different types of aircon don’t matter– cassette types, split type aircons, portable types, and window air conditioner units all require regular service and maintenance. 

It’s important to clean your AC regularly right after installation. You can get in touch with your aircon brand’s service provider or other professional services, or learn to go through the process yourself.

Whatever method you choose, what’s important is that the internals of your aircon are properly cared for. Investing time and effort into maintaining your air conditioning will ensure that your home will stay clean and cool for years to come.

What is the Best Way to Clean an Air Conditioner?

Now, the process of cleaning an aircon is simple, but it can take a lot of work to do it properly. Put simply, the air filter must be removed from the aircon, carefully cleaned, and the aircon’s individual parts cleaned as well. Installation of all the parts must be done after they’ve all dried properly, to prevent rust or leakage.

Proper removal and installation of parts can be tricky, and making a mistake may damage your air conditioner and void your warranty. Incorrect handling might actually cause you more grief in the long run, which is why it’s better to do careful research first before starting on cleaning yourself.

Below is a brief guide to cleaning aircons according to their different types. While the basic principle is the same, each air conditioner type and model has slightly different parts and structure, so make note of the tools and tricks that you’ll need.

Basic Tools for Cleaning An Air Conditioner

  • Coil cleaner
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Cleaning solution (dish detergent or hydrogen peroxide works)
  • Fin comb
  • Vacuum cleaner

How to Clean a Window Air Conditioner

Window air conditioner models tend to follow the same, boxy design. The first thing you’re going to need to do in order to clean a window air conditioner is to turn off your machine and unplug it from its power source. Once you’ve done that, you have two options, which we’ll outline below.

Cleaning a Window AC Filter Only

If you’re going to be doing some monthly maintenance on your unit, then you’re probably only going to need to clean out the filter. If your filter is detachable, then you won’t need to take your window unit down from its placement on the wall or window.

Instead, you just need to follow the following steps:

  • Step 1: Carefully remove the window frame from your window AC unit.
  • Step 2: Once you’ve removed it, you’ll see your window unit has a filter. Depending on the version or model, you can either slide this filter out or pull it up.
  • Step 3: Once you’ve removed your filter from the AC, brush off the accumulated dust and dirt so it’s clean of larger debris.
  • Step 4: Once the bulk of the dust has been removed, you can then clean the filter under some running warm water. If your filter has too much dust or dirt caked onto it, you can clean your filter with a spray hose attachment. Most filter types can hold up to a spray clean with water, but make sure the water pressure is just strong enough to clean out the grime without damaging the air conditioner filter itself.
  • Step 5: When you’ve finished with the filter, simply shake off the excess water, pat dry with a towel, and leave it to dry completely before reinstalling into your A/C. Your air conditioning filter should be replaced every three months if possible.

Cleaning an Entire AC Unit

Regular maintenance is important, and if you clean the filter of your AC often then your unit is more likely to be in good condition. However, any window air conditioner unit will need a thorough cleaning every once in a while. To clean your window air conditioner unit, take a look at the step by step process below.

  • Step 1: Window air conditioners are all single units, giving your window air conditioner a deep clean requires removal from its position in the wall or window. Turn off and unplug your window air conditioner before removing it completely from its place on the wall.
  • Step 2: Bring your window air conditioner unit outside your home and into the open air. Take off the front panel of the air conditioning unit, as well as the casing of the unit. Be sure to keep the screws somewhere safe for easy reattachment later.
  • Step 3: Vacuum the dust or grime attached to the unit, especially around the grille and fan blades if they’re easily accessible.
  • Step 4: Straighten the bent cooling fins with a fin comb. This is a comb specifically designed for fixing window air conditioner fins. You can find a comb for fins at your local home improvement store. Be sure to match the comb to the spacing of your aluminum fins to avoid damaging them. Insert your comb and pull upwards to straighten the fins. Be sure to wear protective gloves, as the sharp aluminum fins can cause injury.
  • Step 5: Clean the unit casing with a spray bottle of water and your solution. You can use a coil cleaner, or a household cleaner or cleaning solution made of water and dish detergent, or water and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Step 6: To clean a window air conditioner thoroughly, spray the front panel of the unit, the condensation drain pan, the casing, and window fins with the solution. Then, spray the interior coils like the condenser coil and evaporator coil, as well as the fins and interior base. Let the parts soak for up to 10 minutes.
  • Step 7: Use a soft bristle brush to gently scrub all of the parts that you’ve sprayed with cleaning solution. If you find some areas difficult to clean completely, simply spray again with your solution and scrub. Repeat the steps until the parts are completely clean.
  • Step 8: Clean the fan blades with household cleaner and an old rag. If the fan has non-metal oiling ports, whether plastic or rubber, open them and put in a few drops of electric motor oil or oiler specific to your air conditioning system.
  • Step 9: Rinse out the parts that need to be rinsed out with water. Make sure you place a drip tray underneath the AC parts. Be sure to thoroughly clean all parts, including the drain pan, to prevent need for further AC maintenance sooner rather than later.
  • Step 10: Use a dry brush to brush out any remaining dust or debris from your AC unit. Make sure all of your AC parts are thoroughly dry before reinstalling. If the parts are dry, reattach them in order, reattach the casing, and reinstall into its regular site or position in your home.

How to Clean a Split Type AC Unit

Different air conditioning units have different procedures when it comes to keeping clean. You want to make sure to do it regularly, no matter what kind of unit you have, as a clean AC will mean better air quality, and more efficient heat and cooling management.

Below are some steps for maintaining your split type AC unit.

Cleaning a Split Type AC Filter Only

  • Step 1: Before starting to clean your split type unit, make sure you’ve turned off the power for both your indoor unit and outdoor unit, and unplugged your indoor unit.
  • Step 2: Put a cleaning bag around your indoor unit. This is meant to catch debris, dirt, and water, and prevent them from scattering in your homes. You can purchase one online at Amazon, or at a local hardware store. If you can’t find one specific to your AC, any large plastic bag will do, as long as it can cover your whole unit.
  • Step 3: Open the front panel of your unit and take out the air filters. Remove clumps of dirt by vacuuming or brushing, and then rinse the filters under running water as instructed above. Dry thoroughly before reinstallment.
  • Step 4: Clean the condenser coils with your coils cleaner. Let the cleaner sit for at least 20 minutes.
  • Step 5: Sanitize your unit with antifungal cleaner to prevent mold from growing on your coils and in the back of the unit. Spray onto the condenser coils, or any other part of your unit that looks prone to mold. Let the product dry on the coils for at least 5 minutes.
  • Step 6: Reinstall the dry filters, close the front panel, and then test your unit to make sure everything is in working order.

Cleaning an Outdoor Split Type AC Unit

  • Step 1: Switch off the power to your outdoor unit.
  • Step 2: With a brush attachment, vacuum the condenser fins of your outdoor condenser unit.
  • Step 3: Following the instructions given above, straighten the metal fins using a fin comb or other tools. Be sure to maintain the distance between the fins.
  • Step 4: Remove the inner fan and clean it according to the instructions given above. Dry thoroughly.
  • Step 5: Rinse the aluminum fins of your unit thoroughly with water. Clean condenser fins allow your aircon to continue to work efficiently. Make sure all parts are completely dry afterwards.
  • Step 6: Once all parts have been cleaned and dried thoroughly, reattach and reinstall. Once secure, you may turn the power source back on, and check if your aircon is working properly.

Conclusion

Proper maintenance of your AC unit can seem daunting at first, but making it a regular habit will only benefit your unit and your household in the long run. Be sure to check your user’s manual before, during, and after the cleaning process to ensure that you’re handling all of the parts of your AC correctly.

If you aren’t sure how to go about it, you can always call in professional help, whether through your aircon brand’s in-house services or through another company. The important thing is that your AC gets the regular care it needs, so that it can serve you for years to come.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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