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How to Clean Split Type Aircon


Prolonged use of air conditioners with no cleaning and maintenance check can cause them to break down, which may result in unnecessary expenses.

In this article, we will show you how to clean a split-type aircon step-by-step so that you can enjoy your cooling system during the hot weather.

How Do You Clean a Split Air Conditioner?

Maintaining and cleaning split air conditioners regularly is essential for attaining fresh, free-flowing cool air and extending the life of your cooling devices. We understand if you want to cut costs with cleaning your AC. If you want to know the cleaning process for your split air conditioners, we got you!

Let’s now look at how to clean your split air conditioner’s indoor and outdoor units.

How to Clean a Split Air Conditioner Indoor Unit

The procedure could be challenging, but after you’ve done it once, you’ll be sure that you can do it again with ease. Here are simple step-by-step instructions to properly clean your split AC’s indoor unit:

1. Ensure Your Split Air Conditioner Is Completely Dry

First, if you have used your split air conditioner, it may have produced moisture and possibly water. Before you begin cleaning, it is essential to dry your air conditioning unit. Set the air conditioner to fan mode and leave it on for 30-40 minutes to help the moisture evaporate.

2. Unplug the Indoor Air Handler Unit From Its Power Source

After evaporating moisture, it is necessary to disconnect an air conditioning unit’s electric cord from its power source before you can begin cleaning an indoor air handler unit. Before removing your air conditioner for cleaning, ensure it is not connected to the electrical power supply.

3. Use a Cleaning Bag for the Indoor Unit and Detach the Front Panel

The next step is to disconnect the unit from its power source and place a large garbage bag or an air conditioning cleaning bag around the indoor unit of a split AC to capture any falling dirt or drippings.

Find the latches or tabs that secure the front panel of the indoor unit of your split air conditioner, undo the latches or press them, and carefully pull the panel upwards to access the inside of your split unit. If the dusty panel doesn’t come out, you can hold it with one hand to clean the interior.

4. Remove and Wash the Air Filters

The long rectangular parts attached to an AC unit when you detach or lift the front panel of your split air conditioner are your filters. You can locate and press the tabs linking the air filters to the unit to remove them. If you can’t find the tabs, check the user manual for assistance. Shake off the dust from the filters using a vacuum cleaner or a soft brush.

After successfully removing the air filters from the unit and dusting them, wash them with mild detergent or soap and cool, clean water to remove any excess particles. Scrub the filters lightly with a sponge or cleaning pad to remove all the dust. Before reinstalling your air filter, rinse it and let it air dry completely. As most air filters might not be designed for drying in the sun, avoid drying them in direct sunlight.

5. Clean the Bacteria Filters and the Cooling Fins

In case you didn’t know, some models feature bacteria filters that must be cleaned. You can clean them the same way you would wash the air filters. Allow the bacteria filters to completely air dry before reinstalling them. You can also use an air conditioner cleaner and purifier to clean them. The cleaner will help remove any undesirable odors from the air conditioner.

The cooling fins resemble a set of metallic lines fitted into an AC unit and are noticeable once an air conditioner’s filter is removed. Clean the dust from the cooling fins with an air blower. Attach a box or a bag to the air blower to collect all the dust from the fins. Blow over the metallic lines without touching them. Spray an air conditioner cleaner softly on the fins and allow them to dry.

6. Clean the Evaporator Coils and Apply Antifungal Spray

When you finish cleaning the filter, you can proceed with the coils. These rounded metal pieces run across the middle of the indoor unit. A no-rinse evaporator spray is the best approach to clean your evaporator coils. You can get it at your local hardware store. You can use this by allowing the evaporator cleaner to rest on the coils for 20-30 minutes before wiping it away.

An antifungal cleaning spray for air conditioners aids in the prevention of mold formation in its interior. Sanitize the coils and fins where toxins most likely form with the spray. You can also use the antifungal spray to sanitize your air conditioner’s filters. You can use this spray and allow it to settle for about 5 minutes before putting back the air filters into an AC.

7. Eliminate Bacteria and Flush Out the Drain Lines

Once you’re done cleaning them, ensure the air and bacteria filters are dry before reinstalling them inside the AC. Wipe away all dampness with a dry cloth as quickly as possible. Fix both filters inside the split air conditioner. They should easily glide back to their positions. After that, fix the front panel to cover the filters. You can clean the panel properly with a dry towel after latching it.

Next, remove the pipe connecting the indoor and outdoor units. A pressurized flush kit could help unclog air conditioning drain lines by including a pressurized nozzle that can help eliminate clogs in the drain pipe. You can unclog an air conditioning drain line with the help of a cleaning agent or pressurized nozzle to force water down. Allow the drain line to air dry for at least an hour before reconnecting the pipe and turning on your air conditioning unit.

8. Allow Your Air Conditioner to Clean Itself

After securely replacing all the parts, you must reconnect the unit to the power source and ensure it runs correctly. Set it to maximum cooling and run it for around 15-20 minutes to drain out any dirty water that may come out once the unit starts running.

Have a cleaning bag, soft cloth, and a bucket nearby to catch the dirty water. Once an air conditioning unit has expended the unclean water, you should notice clean and cold air flowing into the room.

How to Clean the Outdoor Unit of a Split-System Air Conditioner

When you’re done with your inside unit, you can proceed with cleaning the exterior unit of your split AC, also known as a condenser or compressor, which resembles a large metal box. Let’s dive into the steps for cleaning your split AC’s exterior unit:

1. Turn Your Outdoor Unit Condenser’s Power Off

First and foremost, unplug or turn off your outdoor unit to ensure no electricity flows into it. You don’t want an air conditioner hooked up to your power source because you will be rinsing the fins with cold water. Check the blueprints if you need to know where the power source is located in your house. Usually, it is situated a few feet away from the unit outdoors.

2. Use of Brush Attachment to Suction the Condenser Fins

After turning off the plug, you may proceed with cleaning the condenser fins. They are thin, vertical metal strips that run the length of the metal unit.

To begin, connect a vacuum cleaner outside and attach the brush attachment to the nozzle. Turn on the vacuum and use long movements to remove visible dust and dirt from the outdoor unit. Continue in straight lines horizontally and vertically until no dirt or leaves are visible in your condenser. Once you’re done, sweep your outside unit regularly to remove stray leaves or dirt.

3. Remove the Lid of the Outdoor Unit to Take Out the Fan

Next, detach the grille from the top of the condenser using a screwdriver. Before cleaning the fins, remove all electrical devices, particularly the fan. Remove any bolts or screws holding the fan in place before lifting it out of the metal assembly with a wrench or screwdriver. Because the fan is connected to the condenser, you won’t be able to remove it entirely. You may check the manufacturer’s instructions for the safest method to remove your outdoor condenser fan.

4. Rinse the Fins With Water and Allow the Unit to Dry

Rinse the air conditioning condenser fins inside the metal unit using a water hose. The rinsing procedure ensures the fins are as clear and clean as possible, allowing your condenser to run efficiently. Use a sprayer attachment if you want a finer or stronger mist from your water hose. Avoid applying too much water pressure to the fins and allow the inside of the outdoor unit to dry before proceeding to the next step.

5. Reattach the Ejected Parts Before Turning the Power Back On

Before turning it on, secure your fan blades back into the condenser unit with the right tools, then reconnect the top grille to the outside unit with a screwdriver.

Once all the components are correctly placed in the electrical compartment, return to the circuit breaker and turn the power back on. If your external unit appears to be malfunctioning, feel free to seek professional HVAC assistance.

How Do I Clean My AC Without Removing It?

If you want to clean your split air conditioner without removing it, unhook the power cord and turn it off. Ensure you turn off the electricity before cleaning the indoor air handler unit. This method avoids electrocution. You can also clean the evaporator coil and fan components using a household spray cleaner.

If your air conditioner’s filter is constructed of metal, you can clean it with lukewarm water. Wipe the filter screen clean with a damp cloth after that. It would also be best to clean the dust filters screens, often found outside. Applying the cleaning solution to the outside unit using a damp cloth to remove excess dirt and grime will also help. Remember to dry it well before turning on the device.

How Many Times Should a Split Type Aircon Be Cleaned?

Generally, HVAC specialists recommend cleaning the split air conditioners at least two times a year. However, when you use them often, manufacturers suggest cleaning every two weeks.

When cleaning your split air conditioner, it is necessary to remove dust from the unit, particularly from the filters. You may clean it with warm water or a vacuum cleaner. When extremely soiled, wash in lukewarm water with detergent and air dry in a shady location away from direct sunlight before installing them back into the unit.

How Do I Determine if My Split Air Conditioner Needs Cleaning?

If your split air conditioner needs cleaning, then your cooling system will start exhibiting signs such as:

  • No or low airflow through your air conditioner
  • Dust collecting around your registers
  • The smell of mold or mildew when your system is running
  • Your system’s cycles are long and frequent
  • The air is not as cool as it should be

If you fail to maintain your split air conditioning unit, this problem can raise your electricity costs and cause your air conditioning unit to short-cycle.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article has helped you understand the cleaning process of a split-type AC system. If you use your split aircon frequently, cleaning the air filters on a regular basis is necessary so that it always operates at peak efficiency.

If you don’t have time, hire a professional service to give your split air conditioner a thorough cleaning and service. Cleaning and maintaining your air conditioner is one strategy to extend lifespan and control electricity costs.

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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