Window air conditioners are an excellent option in small homes or studio apartments where larger cooling systems are not necessary. However, their constant exposure to the elements and susceptibility to condensation mean they require regular maintenance to keep them running at full capacity. Here are the steps that any homeowner can take to keep their window air conditioner running efficiently for years to come.
Clean the Exterior and Filter
The most basic steps that you can take to maintain your air conditioner are to keep the filter and the exterior cabinet clean. Keeping debris off of the exterior will reduce the amount that is available to fall into the vents and clog internal components such as the blower or coils. Wash the outside of the air conditioner regularly to get rid of dirt, and brush away leaves and other debris.
The filter is located just behind the front panel of your air conditioner. Keeping this filter clean will improve your indoor air quality and keep your air conditioner from having to work harder to cool your home. To clean the filter, first remove it from the air conditioner and use a vacuum hose to remove large pieces of dirt and dust. Then, take it outside and use a low-pressure water hose to deep clean the filter, allowing it to dry before you reinstall it in the unit. If there are any holes or tears in the filter, it will need to be replaced.
Clean the Evaporator Coils
The evaporator coils are just behind the front vents in your air conditioner and are responsible for cooling the air that blows into your home. The evaporator coils and fins can become clogged or bent over time. To clean them, you will need to remove the outer cabinet of your air conditioner to access it from the inside.
Once you have removed the bolts that are holding the cabinet in place and lifted it off the unit, you can use a vacuum hose to pull debris out of the fins of the evaporator coil. The fins are thin strips of aluminum over the coils that help them cool air that passes through them. When the fins are clean, use a stiff bristle brush to scrub away dirt that has gathered at the bottom of the coils due to condensation. If the coils are bent, you can use a fin comb to straighten them and improve airflow in your unit.
Unclog the Drain Pan
The drain pan is the bottom pan inside of your air conditioner, beneath the coils and blower. The purpose of the drain pan is to allow condensation to run off of the coils and out of the back of the unit. Sometimes, the drain can become clogged if it is not tilted properly and rust builds up around the drain hole. In other cases, dirt and debris can fall through the vents of your air conditioner and prevent it from draining properly.
You should clean the drain pan immediately after cleaning the evaporator coils while you still have the outside of the air conditioner removed. This will allow you to get rid of any dirt that fell off of the evaporator coils. If your air conditioner was tilted properly and some water was still draining, you will probably see dried chips of rust inside of the pan. These can be removed with a stiff brush, or sometimes by hand.
If the air conditioner was retaining water, there will likely be a murky sludge in the pan. Use a pressurized hose to thoroughly spray out the pan, taking care not to damage the fins inside of the unit. Reassemble the air conditioner and reinstall it, and make sure it drains easily from the back.
A window air conditioner is one of the easiest appliances for you to maintain at home. If you notice signs of problems with your air conditioner, such as loud rattling noises or water coming through the front of the unit, be sure to inspect it immediately or hire an air conditioner repair service so that you are not left without a cool and comfortable home.