7 Steps to Follow When Cleaning Your Window AC Unit

Family enjoying Clean air indoors

A window air conditioner is the simplest form of AC that you’ll find on the market today. These units are a lifesaver for people who live in homes without good airflow from their central HVAC systems or high-rise buildings. You can also use window air conditioners to keep your house comfortable if you need extra cooled air. However, like any other home appliance, window AC units need cleaning. They accumulate debris and dust with time, which impairs their capacity to absorb heat, reducing their cooling capacity and efficiency.

Experts recommend thoroughly cleaning your window ACs at least once annually, most preferably before their first use during the cooling season. In addition to the annual cleaning, you need to clean the units’ filters once a month and replace the non-reusable filters with new ones every three months. Dirty and clogged filters impede normal airflow, forcing your unit to work harder to maintain the desired indoor temperature.

Cleaning your window air conditioner allows it to use less energy and operate efficiently. It also prevents the growth of mildew and mold inside your unit, which can cause serious health problems to you and your family. Below is a step-by-step guide for cleaning your window air conditioner to ensure optimal performance.

1. Gather the Needed Materials

To give your window AC a thorough cleaning, you will need a few supplies from around your house and the local store.

Before you get started, ensure you have the following materials:
  • Mild detergent or soap
  • Warm water
  • Knife
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Spray bottle
  • A pair of gloves
  • Reusable cloth
  • Compressed air
  • Screwdriver
  • Soft-bristle brush or fin comb
  • Drip tray

2. Clean the Grille Cover and the Exterior

The grille cover, also known as the face panel, refers to the metal or plastic grate secured to the front part of your AC unit. It’s either secured onto the unit using tabs, screws, or clips. Before cleaning the face panel, you need to remove it. It’s a good idea to consult the user manual for specific guidelines on how to remove it. Some models house the filter inside the face panel. If so, follow the user manual instructions to remove the filter before cleaning the unit’s face panel.

After removing the face panel, spray the panel with your cleaning agent and wipe it clean with a reusable cloth. Alternatively, you can take it outdoors and spray it with your garden hose and set it aside to dry. Wipe down the sides and the top of your air conditioner before cleaning the rest of the unit’s components.

3. Clean the Filter

Keeping the filter clean is critical to ensuring your air conditioner functions smoothly. Experts recommend washing the filter once a month, even if you don’t clean the whole unit. Here is how you should do it.

First, unplug your window air conditioner and then take off the filter. Some models have the filter situated behind the unit’s face panel, while others will have it housed within the face panel. If the filter is covered in hair, dust, or other debris, use the vacuum to clear the debris. From there, clean your filter using warm water and soap and leave it to dry. Once it dries completely, place it back into the window air conditioner.

Although cleaning the filter every month is a great idea, you also need to replace the filter regularly. However, the replacement frequency depends on the environmental factors in your region and how often you use your window air conditioner. Experts recommend replacing your AC filter every six weeks to six months.

4. Dust the Coils and Fins

After cleaning the face panel and filter, it’s time to clean the AC unit’s interior. Although you don’t have to dust the coils and fins every time you clean your unit, many manufacturers recommend cleaning them semi-annually or quarterly.

First, take your soft-bristle brush or fin comb and gently comb all the aluminum fins within the air conditioner. Take your time as you dust off the fins to avoid hurting yourself because they can be sharp.

Next, spray the condensed air in the AC unit to clean the coils. Be thorough when dusting off the unit’s coils to remove all the debris that might interfere with your air conditioner’s normal functioning.

5. Vacuum the Unit’s Interior

 Vacuum the Unit's InteriorAfter cleaning the coils and fins, you need to vacuum out the entire interior of the air conditioner. That includes the blower and fan in the middle of the unit, the drain pain beneath, the condenser located in the back, and the evaporator.

Be careful when cleaning the thin fins on the condenser and evaporator. You can attach a soft brush to your vacuum hose and then vacuum up and down or vertically in the same direction as the aluminum fins. This way, you’ll avoid damaging or bending the fins during the cleaning process.

Next, use a vacuum or a damp cloth to remove the dirty water or debris collected in the drip tray. After cleaning, set it out to dry before reassembling. Lastly, check the unit’s drain to ensure nothing is blocking it. Use the cloth to clean around the drain’s opening to ensure a clear path to allow water to exit your air conditioner.

6. Straighten the Unit’s Fins

Having bent aluminum fins on your condenser or evaporator can lead to poor performance of your air conditioner or even premature failure. If you notice some bent fins during the cleaning process, you need to move them back into place gently.

Wear your gloves before inserting the fin comb inside the space between the aluminum fins, just below or above the bent parts. Gently run the fin comb or knife in the same direction as the surrounding, straight fins until the affected ones straighten up.

7. Reassemble and Spray Your Unit

After cleaning and ensuring every component is dry, it’s time to reassemble the window air conditioner and spray it to prevent mold growth. Consider spraying the aluminum fin with compressed air before spraying your evaporator and condenser coils. This way, you’ll eliminate any sediment missed by the vacuum and give them a deeper clean.

Lastly, put your hydrogen peroxide in the spray bottle and apply it to the parts where air flows out and in. Allow the hydrogen peroxide to dry before switching on your unit.

Contact the AC Experts Today!

Whether you feel like your window AC is not working like it’s supposed to or emitting moldy odors, cleaning the unit can fix many issues. Regular cleaning can ensure your indoor air remains clean and your unit stays energy efficient. The above steps will help you clean your window air conditioner and maintain the desired temperatures indoors. However, if this cleaning process is more than you can handle, you can always hire an expert from Integrity Heating & Cooling to help you clean the window AC unit. Regardless of your AC’s brand or model, our NATE-certified technicians will work with you to ensure your unit is clean and functioning optimally to help you attain a comfortable environment indoors.

Our company is also popularly known for other services, including air quality assessments, furnace services, heat pumps, and commercial HVAC services. We proudly serve the residents of Charlotte, NC and the surrounding regions to ensure your business or home has the comfort you require. Get in touch with us today for all your air conditioning needs or to schedule any other service.

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