how to clean your outside AC unit It makes sense that the outdoor portion of your AC unit is going to get dirty faster than the indoor one. Exposed to dirt, sun, rain, wind and debris, the outdoor unit will collect a mess eventually. When it does, the efficiency of the heat evaporation will be compromised and the whole air conditioner’s energy efficiency will drop. Not to mention that the extra wear and tear can also make repairs and even replacement more likely. That is why it is so critical to occasionally clean your outdoor air conditioner unit. Here’s how to do so.

Turn Off the Power

Before you start cleaning anything, you need to turn it off first, you should head inside and turn your thermostat off (and not just up, because your home may heat up such that the air conditioner turns back on while you’re working.) You should also disconnect the air conditioner from power at the exterior unit’s disconnect box. There should either be a flick switch or pull-out switch to do this.

Collect Your Tools

Depending on how messy your air conditioner is, you may need these tools:

  • Work gloves
  • Yard waste bags
  • Garbage bags
  • A rake or stiff bristle brush
  • Coil cleaner or dish detergent and water
  • Cloths
  • A shop vacuum
  • Screwdriver

Remove Large Debris

Don your work gloves and remove the large pieces of trash on the outside of the ac unit. You may find leaves and other natural debris suitable for the yard waste bag, or you may find trash suitable for the garbage. Either way, these large pieces of debris can restrict airflow and should be removed from the unit. You may also find that running the shop vac or the brush along the air conditioner captures smaller debris and dirt that you can’t quite get with your hands.

Clean the Coils

The next step is to clean the interior. To do this, you’ll need to use the screwdriver to remove the cover or cage that sits over the air conditioner coils. Make sure you put the screws aside somewhere you won’t lose them. Then apply the coil cleaner to the coils or mix water with some dishwasher soap and do the same. Follow the instructions on the coil cleaner, which usually asks you to wait for a few minutes before wiping it off. Then you can wipe down the coils with your clean cloth. Or you can use your hose and rinse it off. If you choose to use your hose, be careful not to spray the motor.

If you’re using dish soap, you can also wipe or wash it off, but you may have to repeat the process as it’s not always as good at cleaning the coils as a dedicated cleaner is.

Restore Power

Once the outdoor unit is dry, it’s time to turn the air conditioner back on. Flip the switch that you initially turned off, and be sure to turn your thermostat back on too.

If you don’t want to do the work of cleaning your air conditioner unit yourself, you can always ask a professional to do it for you.