The ABCs of AC Units: How to Clean Central AC Systems

With summer and warmer weather right around the corner, it’s almost the season for your HVAC unit to begin working overtime. That also means it’s time for some routine AC maintenance and to brush up on how to clean central AC. 

Routine maintenance for homeowners is essential in maintaining indoor air quality and preventing it from failure during a heatwave. So if you want to avoid sitting in a sweltering home on a record heat day, you will need to get started sooner than later!

How to Clean Central AC Units

If your HVAC unit has been sitting around idly, collecting dust and debris, it will likely break in the middle of the summer and require some central AC troubleshooting. 

The truth is, idle units will collect dust, dirt and debris around the central AC condenser, making it fail when you need it the most. If you found that to be the case, then the first thing you must do is turn off the power. 

1. Turn Off The Power Supply

Before attempting to clean your HVAC unit, you must cut off the power supply. Central AC maintenance, while it’s running, is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. 

Most central AC units will have a shut-off box on the outside of the compressor or condenser. If you can’t find the shut-off box or service panel, you will want to cut off power for the unit at your breaker box. 

2. Fix and Clean the Fins

Next, you’ll want to realign any bent fins using a dinner knife. Depending on the unit, you may have to use a screwdriver to unscrew and remove panels to get to the fins. 

Realignment shouldn’t require more than a gentle push, and you shouldn’t insert the knife more than a half-inch. Then, use a soft-bristle brush to vacuum the fins. As you may have noticed, the fins are a very fragile part of your unit and easily be bent. 

It’s important to note that you should always use an up and down motion instead of vacuuming side to side. Similarly, if you use water, then you must spray from the top instead of directly onto the fins. 

3. Reinstall Panels

The last step is to reinstall the panels in the exact order they were removed. Instead of tightening the screws, leave them loose until all the panels are in. 

This helps in case the order is wrong, and you need to move the panels around. Depending on the model, it may be easier to install any corner pieces first. 

Avoid the Heat With a Working Central AC

To avoid the sweltering summer heat and hours of waiting for a tech to come out and troubleshoot the issue, you must have an idea of how to clean central AC and conduct routine AC maintenance. 

If you found this post helpful, check out some of our recent blogs for more tips!