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AC Maintenance in 10 Steps

HomeTechnologyAC Maintenance in 10 Steps

Keep your ac maintained and you’ll not only save money on energy, but you’ll also increase its lifespan, saving money on costly early replacement. Dave Moody, HVAC pro from Service Experts, says, “An air conditioner needs regular attention to be sure it’s operating at the highest efficiency.” The best time to use the listed tips is just before each cooling season begins.

AC maintenance

Your Ventilating, Heating, and Air-Conditioning system (HVAC) will consist of either a furnace or a heat pump, which both heats and cools. Both types will have an interior unit (blower and evaporator) and an exterior unit (compressor and condenser coil). And these instructions apply to a whole-home air-conditioning or heat pump unit.

1. Shut Off The Power

Due to the dangers of working around electricity and the air-conditioner’s moving parts, it is necessary to completely turn off power to the unit. On the exterior compressor/condenser, look for an exterior shut-off box near the unit. Indoors, and turn the power off at the breaker box. And it is one of the crucial steps when we talk about ac maintenance.

2. Remove Debris

On the exterior compressor/condenser, remove the fan cage. Using a screwdriver or wrench, remove the fasteners and lift the fan grill or cage away from the top of the unit. By hand, or with a dry/wet vacuum, clean leaves, and other debris from the interior. 

3. Clean The Fins

Remove the outer covers and use the brush attachment on a powerful shop vacuum to eliminate all outside dirt. Then, using a gentle stream from a garden hose, spray through the fins from the inside out to remove any built-up debris or dirt from between them. Never use a pressure washer, since the pressure can easily damage the fins. And if the fins are particularly dirty, use a commercially available fin cleaning spray (available at home improvement centers; kindly read and follow manufacturer directions).

4. Straighten The Fins

Since any reduction in the flow of air through the fins can easily reduce efficiency and carefully straighten the bent fins using a commercially available fin-straightening tool or butter knife. Be gentle straighten the fins so that the tubing embedded within the fins is not damaged.

5. Clean Area Around The Unit

Once you are finished with the cleaning, replace the fan cage. Rake back leaves and debris outside the condenser and cut back branches and vegetation at least 2 feet in all directions to ensure proper flow of air around the unit. During the winter season when the condenser is not in use, it’s good to cover the top of the unit with a piece of plastic or plywood to keep debris from falling in. Having said that, don’t completely cover the unit’s sides since moisture can build up inside and cause corrosion. Additionally, a completely covered unit encourages vermin to build nests inside. Remove any cover when your air conditioning unit is operating. And it is one of the crucial steps when we talk about ac maintenance

6. Level the Unit

From the last few years, the pad upon which the condenser unit sits can begin to tip as the soil settles beneath it. An out-of-level condenser unit can easily cause the compressor to fail early. And check the condenser for level and use rot-resistant shims to bring it back to level. Moody (Service Expert) adds this exception: “If you have a heat pump system, then it is okay for the pad to be slightly sloped away from the home’s foundation to allow for defrost run-off during the winter.”

7. Clean the Evaporator Coil

Anf now it is time to move inside. On the inside furnace/blower unit, find the evaporator coil door. You may need to eliminate some foil duct tape and take out a few screws or bolts. Inside, use a soft brush to dust off the coil, then spray the coil with commercially available coil cleaner. Then the sprays will foam up and then drip into the drain pan. Clean out the drain pan with hot water, soap, and a little bleach. Then, pour a cup of 50% water/50% bleach down the drain. Then to keep the drain clear longer-term, place a commercially available drain pan tablet in the pan. And this will inhibit future algae growth.

If the bleach solution is easily drained, then skip the next step. And if not, move on to the next step. Replace the evaporator coil door and then use foil duct tape to re-seal, if necessary.

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8. Clean a Plugged Evaporator Drain

On the interior, humid, warm air from your home’s interior is blown through the evaporator coil. The cold coil then absorbs heat from the air, cooling it before the air is circulated back into your home. The humidity in the air then condenses on the cool surface of the evaporator coil as liquid water, dripping into a pan below. From the pan, the water then flows into a drain tube which is typically routed into a basement floor drain, outdoors or utility sink.

Over time, mold and algae can build up and potentially plug the drain, so if the drain is either flowing very slowly or not flowing, it will need to be unplugged. Then the plugged drain can either cause damage by flooding onto the floor or, if the air conditioning system is equipped with a drain float, causes the system to stop cooling in order to avoid flooding.

Initially, find the drain line where it leaves the evaporator coil enclosure. The drain is generally a one-inch PVC pipe (white, grey, or black). Follow it to the end where it drains. Often the line drains outside near the condenser unit, but it can also drain into a basement floor drain or utility sink or, in the case of attic units, down an outside wall.

Once located, use a dry/wet vacuum to clear the drain. And it is best to remove the paper filter from the dry/wet vacuum so as not to ruin the filter. Hold the hose of the dry/wet vacuum to the end of the drain line. And you can use duct tape or simply hold a rag around the gap. Then turn on the vacuum for 2-3 minutes then turn off. This will finally clear the drain of any growing biological matter.

9. Change The Blower Filter

The browse filter that your HVAC system contains should be changed at least twice a year – once just before the summer season begins and once before the winter season begins. And if you live in a particularly dusty area, you may want to change it more often. And always replace the filter with a new filter that has the same airflow rating. Again, Moody once said, “Be careful with ‘air purifying’ or HEPA filters,” he says, “because they can dramatically reduce airflow in your system. That can easily cause the indoor coil to freeze because of the reduced airflow.”

Locate the filter enclosure on the indoor AC/furnace where the large fresh and clean air return duct enters the unit. Then you may need a screwdriver to turn the latch to open the door to the filter enclosure. Remove the old filter and install the new one, matching the air-flow direction arrows on the filter to the arrows on the unit. Close and latch the door. And it is one of the crucial steps when we talk about ac maintenance.

10. Turn The Power Back On

While these steps will help to keep your air conditioning system in top shape, be aware of the fact that there are ac maintenance items that only a trained HVAC technician will be able to do. For example, a slow refrigerant leak in your air conditioning system can cause an expensive compressor failure, but a homeowner doesn’t have the skills or tools necessary to check refrigerant levels. Also, proper airflow and clean ducts are essential to a well-functioning system, but homeowners lack the necessary equipment for the job. The bottom line? While some AC maintenance can be easily done by a savvy homeowner, but still it is necessary to have an expert HVAC technician that can check the air conditioning system on a regular basis.

I hope these steps will clear all your doubts about ac maintenance and if you still have some confusion then you can watch this video.

Also Read: Things To Look For In A Professional Air Conditioning Technician!

pearls of wisdom
Tushar Balchandani is a blogger and a digital marketer. And he is working on 91airconditioners since 2019. From the childhood days, he was interested in electronics and this interest pushed him in the blogging world.


  1. What’s up, this weekend is nice in support of me, as this
    moment i am reading this fantastic informative article
    here at my residence.


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