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How to Clean and Test Your Air Conditioner in Louisville, KY

An air conditioning system is made up of several parts – the condenser unit, condenser coils, condenser fan, compressor, fins, air handler, evaporator coil, condensation drain, blower fan motor, and quite a few more! For all parts to work together and cool your home with efficiency, maintenance is required and cleaning is one important aspect of this air conditioner service!

Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing shares detailed instructions to help you complete several important air conditioning unit cleaning tasks, covering the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. If you’d rather not clean your air conditioner, our technicians provide thorough maintenance service for central air conditioner units in and around Louisville.

Cleaning the AC Condenser Unit

The outdoor unit of an air conditioning system is the condenser unit which expels heating energy to the air outside. Dirt and debris, grass, and plants can accumulate and cover the fins around the condenser, which negatively impacts cooling efficiency due to restricted air flow and heat transfer.

  1. Turn off the power to your AC condenser at the main electrical panel and the switch on the condensing unit.
  2. Remove dust, dirt, grass, mulch, and other debris from the fins using a soft brush.
  3. Take a fin comb and straighten out fin blades that are bent or crushed. A household knife will do just fine if you do not own this specialized tool.
  4. Prune bushes, pull weeds, and remove all growth in the two-foot area immediately surrounding the outdoor unit.
  5. Unscrew the grille at the top of the condenser unit and remove it as well as the attached fan if appliable.
  6. Spray your garden hose along the fins from the inside of the condenser to clean away more dirt and debris.
  7. Since you have access to the inner parts of the condenser, it’s a smart time to provide maintenance for the fan motor. Older air conditioners have condenser fan motors with oil ports that require lubrication. Add electric motor oil to each of the oil ports until they are completely full.
  8. Replace the condenser fan and grille covering the condenser unit.
  9. Restore electrical power to the condenser unit at the mail panel and switch.

Cleaning the Condenser Coils

The AC coils inside the condenser unit are the condenser coils. Opposite of the evaporator, condenser coil releases heat from pressurized refrigerant after coolant exits the compressor. Dirt and debris from the outdoor environment can accumulate on the condenser coils, blocking their ability to release heating energy with efficiency. To conserve electrical power and make operation more efficient, cleaning is needed for condenser coils.

  1. Turn off the power via the condenser switch and electrical panel.
  2. Use a fin comb to gently bend damaged fins back into the correct position along the outdoor unit.
  3. Remove screws from the grille covering the condenser and lift it out along with the attached fan.
  4. Blow compressed air along the condenser coils to rid the coils of debris and vacuum it out of the bottom of the air conditioning unit. Or, run the vacuum brush along the coils to remove these deposits.
  5. Make a solution from water and dish soap or purchase commercial coil cleaning solution, applying it along the condenser coil with a sponge or soft brush. You can also add your solution to a spray bottle and spray it to clean the coils inside the condenser unit.
  6. Use spray from your garden hose to rinse the coils clean.
  7. Give the coils and the condenser time to dry out.
  8. Reattach the fan and grille on top of the condenser.
  9. Flip the power back on at the electrical panel and nearby switch.

Cleaning the Indoor Evaporator Coil

A central air conditioner has a unit inside the home, which is usually a furnace or air handler. Within the indoor unit is the evaporator coil. The job of this coil is to pull heat out of the air circulating across the coils. Dust, dirt, and debris can collect along the evaporator as air brings particles into the air conditioner. These materials cause a hose of issues which could stop the air conditioner from cooling one day.

  1. Turn off the power on the air handler or furnace as well as at the main panel of the home.
  2. Take off the access panel to expose the evaporator coil inside your air handler or furnace.
  3. Carefully loosen and remove debris, dust, and dirt deposits from the evaporator coil with a soft brush.
  4. Spray a no-rinse commercial coil cleaner all over the evaporator coil. This type of HVAC cleaning solution does not need to be rinsed off.
  5. Put the access panel back into place.
  6. Reset power to send electrical energy to the air hander and turn its switch on.

Cleaning the Condensate Drain Lines

As the evaporator coil gathers heating energy, air temperature drops which causes moisture to condense into liquid form. Normally, the liquid falls down into a collection pan and on into the condensation drain tube. The drain tube runs between the indoor air conditioner and a nearby drain within the home or the lines run outside for discharge. Debris, mold, and other matter can clog up the drain lines and force moisture back into the air supply, which causes efficiency to decline throughout cooling season.

  1. Turn off the power to the air handler or furnace at the main electrical panel and nearby unit switch.
  2. Take off the access panel covering the compartment where the evaporator coil sits. Find the drip pan below the evaporator.
  3. Insert a wet/dry vacuum into the collection pan to remove accumulated water.
  4. Clean the drain pan with soap and water or use a vinegar spray to clean it. Use HVAC pan tablets to keep drains clean and prevent mold growth inside your HVAC equipment.
  5. Find the port connection between the drip pan and condensate lines.
  6. Disconnect the tube from the port.
  7. Insert a pipe cleaner or thin wire brush to clean around the pull out all the unwanted system debris. Reattach the tube to the drain port.
  8. Go outside and find the opening at the end of the condensate drain lines running from the indoor unit.
  9. Place a wet/dry vacuum hose over the end of the line and create a seal with your hand or a rag. Turn on the vacuum for about three minutes and allow the vacuum to pull debris out of the lines.
  10. Go indoors and find the access port to the condensate drain lines – it is a vertical pipe with a cap sitting up from the drain lines or a t-vent on the drain line.
  11. Pull off the cap to the access port and pour cleaning solution down the port to clean out the drain line. Use water and soap, vinegar, or a single cup of bleach.
  12. Put the cap back onto the access port.
  13. Reinstate electrical power to the air conditioning unit at the electrical panel and switch.

Cleaning the Blower Fan Motor and Fan

Inside the air handler or furnace, the blower assembly is made up by the fan motor and the fan. This component of an air conditioning unit receives cool air from the evaporator and moves it through ducts and into your home. Airflow can deposit dust, dirt, and debris, causing the bower to decline in efficiency as it cannot rotate at sufficient speeds that manage the required airflow.

  1. Shut down power to the indoor central air conditioning equipment at the main panel and using a nearby switch for the unit.
  2. Pull off the access panel to expose the blower compartment.
  3. Carefully detach the circuit board if it is in the way of the blower fan. Place this component aside while keeping its wires attached.
  4. Remove bolts holding the blower parts inside the unit.
  5. Remove the screws to take off the blower assembly cover. Wipe away debris from the cover using a fiber-free cloth.
  6. Use a soft brush or cloth to clean each blade of the fan as well as the air inlet on the blower fan motor. Beach and water can be used if tough grime doesn’t seem to want to come off.
  7. Vacuum out any dirt and debris down in the blower chamber.
  8. Put the blower assembly cover back into place, sit the blower assembly back into its compartment, and bolt it down into position.
  9. Put the circuit board back into place.
  10. Turn on power to the indoor air conditioning system via the home electrical panel and unit switch.

Time to Test Your AC System

After you clean your air conditioner, you want to test the AC system to verify everything was put back into place correctly and that no new damage has been caused to create the need for repairs.

  1. Check the main electrical panel and all equipment switches to verify all parts of the air conditioning unit have electrical power.
  2. Reset your thermostat so that the temperature is lower than the current reading so the thermostat tells the air conditioner to run a cooling cycle.
  3. Leave the air conditioner running for about 10 minutes as you listen for noises, feel for airflow and cool air coming out of vents, and study to detect any other problems with your air conditioner.
  4. Adjust the thermostat to program temperatures back where you like them to avoid wasting energy.

If you happen to notice concerning issues while you clean and test AC equipment, stop using your air conditioner and schedule repairs right away.

Air Conditioner Maintenance in Louisville

Cleaning for an air conditioner may not be high up on your to-do list. If this is the case, contact Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing to have air conditioner maintenance service performed by licensed HVAC professionals. Contact us today to schedule a service appointment.

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