Air Conditioning Maintenance includes Cleaning Coils for Better Air Flow

One of the key aspects for home air conditioning maintenance is keeping the coils clean to allow for better air flow. On whole-house systems the coils are located in the outside unit that contains the compressor and condenser and is surrounded by metal fins that protect the coil. When attempting to clean the coil for the first time, it should be noted that care must be exercised not to bend the fins which will result in restricted air flow.

The first step will be to disconnect the power to the outdoor unit. This is usually located near the unit, mounted on the exterior wall of the home. Using a spray bottle, you can use a cleaner specifically developed to clean the coil by spraying it directly onto the metal fins and coils and let it sit for a few minutes to loosen any build-up of dirt and debris.

Using a garden hose you can spray directly onto to the metal fins and the coils to remove the dirt. Never use a pressure washer as the power could bend the fins. There is no need to hurry by using additional pressure and if you allowed the cleaner to work long enough the dirt should flow right off. Once cleaned, don’t forget to plug the unit back into the power supply.

There are other steps you can take as part of your regular air conditioning maintenance such as making sure to keep grass clippings from blowing onto the outside unit and clogging up the coil. When using a push mower have it turned so that the grass blows away from the unit. In addition to cut grass clippings the mower could also throw small stones at the unit causing additional damage.

Another step you can take is to lay down a layer of pine needles around the outside unit. This will help keep dust down and prevent it from blowing into the metal fins and getting lodged on the coils of the outdoor unit.

How often you need to clean the coils will depend on a variety of factors. Dust, dead leaves and grass clippings are some of the most common causes of blocked coils, but in the spring dandelions can be a particular nuisance. During the spring you may need to clean the fins weekly or more often to ensure they remain clean and don’t cause your unit to overheat and stop functioning when you need it the most.

For an extra step in air conditioning maintenance you can remove the cover of the coil unit and check inside for leaves and other debris that has made its way to the inside. If you are not comfortable getting into the unit, call a professional to have a look and check for leaks. Although most fans in these units are sealed, they may have ports for oil. If you are performing your own maintenance ensure you are using the oil designed for this purpose and not using all-purpose oil or penetrating oil that could damage the unit.

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