Most homeowners do not think about their air conditioning until it breaks down. However, air conditioning systems need to be cleaned just like any other part of your home. If you have never cleaned your AC system, then an HVAC contractor can show you how to do all of the following during your first AC service call.
Clean the Condenser's Exterior Frame
Your air conditioner's condenser is the components inside the box-like structure outside. It has numerous open slats that allow the exchange of air from inside and outside your home. When these slat openings become filled with dirt, dust, small pebbles and/or organic matter from trees and grass, the air conditioner loses its ability to freely exchange air and you may even get some of that floating back into your house! If you go outside once every couple of weeks or so and clear away leaves, twigs and grass, wipe off the entire condenser box with a wet rag or a dry rag and cleaning solution and clear the area around the box, then the air exchange process returns to normal.
Clean the Condenser Coils
These coils fill with refrigerant. The refrigerant cools the air around the coils before the air is pumped back into your home. Frequently coils "freeze up," creating an extra layer of ice around them. While you do not want to touch this with your bare hands (wear protective gloves), you will want to remove some of that ice surrounding the coils. Turn your air conditioner off for awhile to see if the ice block thaws on its own. If you want to hurry the process along, you can use a blow dryer on the ice, but you will have to remove the exterior box portion of your condenser before turning the hair dryer on the coils. (The HVAC contractor has similar heating and melting tools at his/her disposal, but without knowing how to use these tools properly, your next safest bet is the hair dryer.)
Clean the AC's Ventilation System
Your air conditioning probably has a separate vent system that enters the house and connects to your blown-air furnace system. This is quite common, but you will need to keep the separate section of AC vent clean too. Since it might require removing a smaller section of the vent system to suction out the dirt and debris, you may just want the HVAC contractor to do this part of the job for you. Click here to read more about the proper care and maintenance of your HVAC system.