How To Clean An Air Conditioner's Condenser

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Your air condition system's condenser is the part of the unit that sits on the outside of your home and pulls in air to be cooled and spread throughout your home. Because it is located outside your home, it is susceptible to being covered by dirt and debris, which can reduce the overall effectiveness and efficiency of your entire air conditioning system. Thankfully, cleaning an air conditioner's condenser is a simple process that does not require specialized tools or a significant amount of time.

What You'll Need

Before you get started, you should gather all the tools that you'll be using to ensure that the process goes quickly and smoothly. You'll need a standard crosshead screwdriver, a garden hose with a spray nozzle, gardening gloves and a degreasing cleaning product, all of which can be found at most hardware and garden supply stores, if you don't already have them at home.

Cleaning the Condenser

First, you should turn your air conditioning system off to ensure that you don't injure yourself or damage the system while cleaning. You can do this by first turning the system off at your home's thermostat, and then tripping the breaker that powers your air conditioner at the power box to be safe.

Then, you should unscrew the grill that covers the top of the condenser: this is designed to keep leaves and other debris out, but is not completely effective. Use the screwdriver to remove the screws holding the grill in place, turning counter clockwise to loosen. Ensure that you keep the screws in a safe place so you can replace the grill when you're done.

Reach inside and remove any large pieces of debris that may be stuck, like sticks or leaves, by hand. You can now use the spray nozzle to wash away any dirt and stuck on materials. Be sure to stand a few feet away from the condenser to ensure that the water pressure is not too intense, as you can dent or bend the fins within the condenser if you're not careful.

Then, apply the commercial degreaser to the interior of the condenser. Though it depends on the specific brand and chemical makeup, you should let the degreaser sit for at least twenty minutes to work away at any stuck on grime before rinsing it off with the hose.

Once the degreaser has been rinsed off, you can reattach the grill to the condenser. Avoid turning the power back on to the unit until it has completely dried, as moisture can cause damage to an air conditioner in operation.

If this isn't something you're comfortable doing on your own, talk to your HVAC contractor--someone like John Legg's Heating & Air Conditioning--about having a professional clean your unit.