Do-It-Yourself Home Air Conditioning Maintenance

Having a central air unit in your home is a welcome relief from the scorching heat of summer. As with any machinery, of course, it is important to keep an air conditioning unit maintained to extend the life of it. Fortunately, it is not as difficult as you might think.

Things You'll Need

  • Water hose
  • Roll of plastic
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Soft bristled brush
  • Motor oil (non-detergent)
  • Air filters in the size appropriate to your unit
  • Straightening tool or fin comb
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    • 1

      Turn off the power to your unit. This is vital--messing with electrical components while the power is still on can cause electrocution or even death. Also, discharge the capacitor on the unit. A capacitor is a component that holds and stores charge, so it is possible to receive a shock from a capacitor even after the power has been cut off. Consult your owner's manual for instructions on how to discharge the capacitor.

    • 2

      Remove the cover from your outside unit with a screwdriver. Use your water hose to spray out the protective grilles and panels of the unit. Cover any and all electrical components with plastic to protect them from shorting out when power is reconnected to them. Spray the grills from the inside to make sure no debris gets stuck inside the unit, which can cause problems in the future.

    • 3

      Maintain the fan. This usually means cleaning and oiling it. You'll want to clean the fan and fan casing, removing all debris that might be stuck in there. Follow your owner's manual instructions on how to lubricate the fan, as the amount of motor oil used will vary from brand to brand. This step is important because the fan is what moves the air through your house to keep it cool. Without a well-maintained fan, an AC system can be quite useless.

    • 4

      Clean the coil fins. Use the soft brush for this job, brushing lightly to remove the dust and debris in the fins. It's important that these fins stay separate for the AC to function properly, and some may be bent toward one another. Use the straightening tool or the fin comb to carefully straighten these fins.

    • 5

      Replace any and all air filters. This is one of the simplest things you can do to maintain your air conditioning system. Make sure you have the correct size for your unit. With some systems it is possible to simply wash out the air filter and replace it. Read your owner's manual for which is recommended before doing so.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ask at your local hardware store for help in finding the correct size air filter.

  • Always complete Step 1 first. Serious injury and even death can occur if you don't turn off the power before maintenance. The simple act of spraying out the grills can turn into a horrific accident.

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