Learn How to Clean an Air Conditioner Servicing AC Cleaning at Home - SMELL FREE AC

How to Clean an Air Conditioner

Three Methods:

Keeping your air conditioner clean will prevent expensive repairs and increase the efficiency and reliability of your unit. While you may want to leave some air conditioner cleaning to the professionals, you can use the tips in this article to clean either a central or room air conditioner on your own.


Clean the Indoor Unit of a Central Air Conditioner

  1. Replace the air filter.Purchase a new air conditioner filter at your local home improvement store. Consult your owner's manual for the correct size, or take your old filter to the store with you.
  2. Turn off the power to your furnace or blower.If you can't find the shutoff switch on the unit, then turn it off at the main panel.
    • Replace the filter.
  3. Open the blower compartment.Vacuum up any visible dust and debris. If your motor has lubrication ports, squeeze 5 drops of oil that is specifically formulated for electric motors into the ports. Avoid penetrating or all-purpose oil (such as WD-40).
    • If you're unsure about the lubrication ports, check your owner's manual.
  4. Check for algae.Remove the plastic condensation tube and check for algae growth. If the tube is clogged, you can either replace it or pour a solution of 1 part bleach to 16 parts water into the tube through a funnel.
  5. Clean the drain tube.Use a pipe cleaner or a small bristled brush.
  6. Restart your unit.Hook the drain line back up and restore the power.

Clean the Outdoor Unit of a Central Air Conditioner

  1. Shut down the power.Turn off the 240-volt power to the air conditioner at the shutoff box on the exterior of your house.
    • You will either have to pull out the shutoff, pull down a handle or remove the fuse. If you don't see a shutoff box, then turn off the circuit breaker that powers the A/C.
  2. Vacuum the condenser fins.Use a vacuum with a soft bristle-brush attachment. You may have to unscrew a protective metal case to access the fins.
    • Check for grass, weeds, leaves and other debris that may block airflow. Trim any foliage to leave about 2 feet (61 cm) of space around the outdoor unit.
    • Be careful not to damage the fins as you vacuum. They can bend easily. If necessary, straighten your fins with a dinner knife or a fin comb.
  3. Unscrew the grille on top of the air conditioner.The fan usually lifts out with the grille, so support the fan carefully as you lift so that you don't damage the electrical connections.
    • Wipe the fan clean with a damp cloth.
  4. Check to see if your fan has lubrication ports.Most fans won't, but if yours do, then apply 5 drops of oil made specifically for electric motors. Avoid penetrating or all-purpose oil (such as WD-40).
  5. Lower a water hose into the empty unit.Using moderate water pressure, spray the fins from the inside out.
  6. Re-assemble the unit.Return the fan and grille to their original positions and screw them back to the unit.
  7. Disable the A/C.Go inside your house and turn your indoor thermostat from "Cool" to "Off."
  8. Restore the power.Allow your A/C to sit idle for 24 hours.
  9. Restart the A/C.Switch the thermostat back to "Cool" and set the temperature of the unit so that it kicks on. Wait 10 minutes.
  10. Check for proper operation.Pull back the insulation on the pipes that come out of the base of the air compressor. One pipe should feel cold, while the other should feel warm. If the temperatures of these pipes are off, then you need your coolant levels adjusted by a professional.

Clean a Room Air Conditioner

  1. Power down.Unplug your room air conditioner, or turn off the breaker to that circuit.
  2. Clean the output.Remove the rear exhaust panel and with a soft-bristled vacuum, clean the fins and coils.
  3. Check for drainage problems.Check the drain channels at the bottom of the air conditioner for clogs.
    • Clean out any clogs with a pipe cleaner or a small bristled brush.
  4. Clean the filter.Remove the front grille from the air conditioning unit. Take out the filter and clean it either by vacuuming it or rinsing it with warm, sudsy water.
    • Make sure the filter is dry before you put it back into the unit.
  5. Dust the grille and the vents.When your room air conditioner is clean, you can restore the power.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How do I clean the back of a window air conditioning unit?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can take off the front panel and reach into the back, but if the back of the unit is against the wall, you can't really clean it more than that.
  • Question
    How do I replace the filters on an air conditioner?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    First, find out what kind of filters you need for your unit. Then go to your local hardware store and ask them to help you find the correct filters. They can also give you instructions on how to correctly install the filters.
  • Question
    How do I maintain an air conditioner?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Remove the filter, wash it with water and let it dry. Clean the outer A/C body with water, soap and a towel.
  • Question
    My apartment air conditioner smells like mildew when I turn it on, how do I get rid of the smell? The maintenance man said put a dryer sheet in front of the filter to mask the smell, but that's not going to get rid of it.
    Jim Bottomley
    Community Answer
    There is a product on the market called GermXit. It's called Bare Air in the US and distributed through Eyzoils. That works very well. I use the liquid on the coils and the Gel inside the building. It doesn't mask the smell, it gets rid of it by killing the mold, mildew or fungi. It's harmless to humans and pets but pests don't like it.
  • Question
    How do I know when the compressor is out of gas?
    Jim Bottomley
    Community Answer
    The AC unit won't be able to hold temperature and the air will not be as cold as usual. You may also get some icing on the coils/fins.
  • Question
    Do I need to unplug a window A/C to vacuum behind the filter coils?
    Jim Bottomley
    Community Answer
    In general, I'd say no. However, it's best to check the area first to see if there are any exposed wires. If you're in any doubt, unplug the unit. Safety first.
Unanswered Questions
  • How to clean air conditioner vents in the ceiling?
  • No dirt on my filter why?
  • Can a hose be used to clean the entire unit?
  • How do you clean window unit outside coils?
  • How do I clean an indoor air conditioner?
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Quick Summary

To clean an indoor central air conditioner, start by turning off the power to your furnace or blower and replacing the air filter with a new one. Once you've replaced the filter, open the blower compartment and use a vacuum to clean up any visible debris. You can also apply some oil to the lubrication ports, if there are any. Then, inspect the plastic condensation tube for algae. If you see algae, you can clean it with a mix of 1 part bleach to 16 parts water. Finally, use a pipe cleaner to clean out the drain tube and reassemble everything.

Did this summary help you?

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum with soft bristle brush
  • Foliage trimmers
  • Dinner knife or fin comb
  • Screwdriver
  • Damp cloth
  • Oil for electric motors
  • Water hose
  • Clean air filter
  • Pipe cleaner or small bristled brush
  • Water and household bleach
  • Soft cloth for dusting
  • The central air conditioner is a major appliance with electrical and plumbing connections. If you feel you cannot clean the unit properly, don’t hesitate to call a professional.
  • The outdoor temperature should be at least 60 F (15.5 C) or higher for the air conditioner to function properly. Otherwise the thermostat may not engage the compressor to cool/refrigerate the air.


  • Avoid bumping the air conditioner coils or hitting the coil against objects. The fins are easy to damage, which will block airflow.
  • Wear a dust-mask when brushing or blowing out dust and dirt.

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Date: 16.12.2018, 01:53 / Views: 31493