One of the best ways to keep rooms comfortable when the weather turns hotter is a window air conditioner unit. This is an efficient option if you live in a smaller home and you don’t need a whole home solution. But, over time, the AC unit may lack the performance that you have become used to and it will operate inefficiently. This can occur in older units, but if your AC unit is relatively new it may be possible to restore the performance with some essential cleaning. The gradual accumulation of dirt, dust, and debris, can hinder the operation of your window AC unit and degrade the energy efficiency. In this article, we will show you how to clean your AC unit safely.

Can I Clean the Window AC Unit?

This is a tricky question to answer because everyone has a different level of confidence when it comes to working with complex systems and electricity. But, this task can be completed with no special training or tools if you have the time and plenty of patience. Regular cleaning will help you to retain much of the performance, inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold and improve the energy efficiency. But, if you don’t have the confidence to tackle this task, you can contact your local heating and cooling specialist to do it for you.

10 Steps to Clean a Window AC Unit

Follow these ten simple steps in order to clean your window AC unit safely. They are:

Step 1: Gather the Supplies

The last thing that you want is to stop the cleaning process because you don’t have an item to hand that you need to complete the task. To clean your window AC unit, you will need the owner’s manual, protective eyewear, a vacuum, 3% hydrogen peroxide, a mild detergent or commercial coil cleaning product, a garden hose, rubber gloves, a face mask, a fine comb, a screwdriver, cleaning rags, a new air filter and a pair of clean spray bottles. The first spray bottle is for the hydrogen peroxide solution and the second is for the cleaning solution.

Step 2: Unplug the Window AC Unit

It’s important to turn off the unit, unplug it and turn off the circuit breaker for extra peace of mind. There is no need to remove the entire AC unit, you can clean it in place if you prefer. But, if you live in a building where the outside unit is hard to access or you live on an upper floor, you may want to remove the unit. This will make it easier to access the rear mounted components for thorough cleaning.

Step 3: External Cleaning

Remove the face panel with the screwdriver and put the screws in a safe place. Spray the cover with a mild detergent mixed with warm water or the cleaning solution. Don’t use bleach or vinegar because they can corrode the metal surfaces. Leave the cleaning solution to sit for 2-3 minutes and then wipe it dry with a cloth. Tough stains can be removed with a soft brush and you can spray the cover with a garden hose too.

Step 4: Clean or Replace the Air Filter

The air filter is probably clogged with dirt, dust, and debris and the lack of airflow can degrade performance and efficiency. The air filters should be cleaned every two weeks and replaced every 3 to 4 months. The filter models for your AC system are detailed in the owner’s manual. Air filters can be washed in warm soapy water and they must be fully dry before they are reinstalled.

Step 5: Vacuuming

The cabinet interior needs to be vacuumed thoroughly.

Step 6: Clean the Coils and Fins

The small aluminum fins can be vacuumed and then sprayed with a commercial coil cleaner. The surfaces should be left for 15-20 minutes to ensure that they are fully cleaned. This is important because they are the ideal breeding ground for mold. Take care, the fins are delicate and they will bend easily if too much pressure is applied. The fins are also sharp, wear gloves and a soft cloth to scrub lightly at tough spots of dirt.

Step 7: Clean the AC Fans

There are two fans, the first is a bladed unit next to the compressor, and the second is located near the evaporator unit. Clean them with the coil cleaning solution and a soft cloth to release the dirt. Then rinse them with a hose, the electrical parts are sealed so don’t stress too much at this stage.

Step 8: Unclog the Drain

Every AC system will remove moisture from the indoor air to make the room feel cooler. This is collected in a drain pan which needs to be removed and cleaned with a wet/dry vacuum. If you prefer, it can be removed and cleaned with a damp cloth. Any cracks in the drain pan can be sealed with a water-resistant sealant and if there are signs of corrosion it should be replaced. The drain hole cover on the bottom of the cabinet can be removed to get the water to drain away. If the hole is clogged it can be cleared/cleaned with a bottle brush and spray bottle.

Step 9: Apply Hydrogen Peroxide Spray

Spray the exterior housing and the interior with the hydrogen peroxide solution. This will kill any remaining bacteria and prevent the growth of mold and mildew inside the AC unit. When you apply this solution wear protective eyewear and rubber gloves.

Step 10: Drying and Reassembly

The cleaning process is complete, every part must be fully dry before you reassemble the unit and restore power.

In Conclusion

Congratulations, your window AC unit is now clean, clear from bacteria and mold, and ready to perform at optimal efficiency. But, if you find this process too daunting or you encounter another problem that you cannot handle it’s time to call for help. Your local heating and cooling specialist has the experience and knowledge to solve your AC problems quickly.