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Cleaning Your Window Air Conditioner: Why It's Important, and How to Do It

When the Arkansas summer comes around, many people find themselves pulling out their window AC units. Unfortunately, many people tend to find out their AC doesn't work quite like it used to. We want you to stay cool in summer. With a little effort, you can clean out your AC and have it functioning as intended.
Window Air Conditioner

Why It's Important to Clean Your Window AC

Many people purchase window units, plug them in and promptly forget about them until there's a problem. As with all mechanical appliances, your window AC requires care, gentle treatment and routine maintenance. Your window unit can last you for years if you take care of it.

If you don't take care of your window unit, it can, and will, develop problems. It will have trouble producing conditioned air. It will not function as efficiently as it can. It will use up more electricity than it needs to. Eventually, it will malfunction and stop working altogether.
People often think the many signs of a dirty air conditioner mean they have an AC unit that no longer works. However, a simple cleaning is often all that's required to get the unit back to near-new performance.

Can You Clean Your Window AC Yourself?

You can definitely clean your window unit on your own. Routine cleaning is an important part of maintenance. Cleaning isn't the same as attempting repairs. You shouldn't attempt to repair or service your window unit unless you're sure of what you're doing. Keeping your AC unit clean will lower the need for repairs and servicing as well.

How to Clean Your Window AC Unit

Different air conditioners may have different requirements when it comes to cleaning. If you have the manufacturer's instruction booklet, it may have methods for cleaning your particular make and model of air conditioner.

You can also search the manufacturer's website or online in general for instructions on your specific type of AC. However, there are a few general tips for cleaning window ACs that can apply to the majority of brands and models.

What Parts of the AC Require Cleaning?

Some parts of your window unit are far more prone to collecting dirt and debris than others. Before you do anything, remember to unplug your AC or cut the power to it at your fuse box.

The AC filter – You may have a disposable filter, or you may have a washable one. Many modern ACs make it easy to get to the filter by providing a compartment for it, or having it just on the other side of the ACs grille. Many grilles pull out, but some require a screwdriver.

If it's disposable, swap it out with a fresh air filter. If it's washable, you can clean it by sitting it in some warm, soapy water. You can also use a soft brush to remove stubborn debris. Make sure you let it dry completely before putting it back into the AC.

Note: While the grille is off, you can also gently vacuum the interior of the unit with a hand vacuum or a vacuum attachment.

The exterior fins – The exterior fins of your AC collect a lot of the outside dust and dirt. Cleaning the fins will keep heat from escaping the AC unit.

There are specific products available for cleaning fins, and fin comb tools for helping to straighten them out. For normal debris buildup, you can wipe the outside of the fins with water and a soft rag. Show care, as the aluminum fins can bend easily.

Note: You can also use compressed air for the fins, as well as for the interior of the AC in general.

The water or drain pan – Window units typically contain water pans. Make sure to clean them out to prevent a buildup of mildew and the associated smell.

You can clean the water pan using either water and detergent or water and vinegar. If you see the drain tubes attached, you can use a piece of wire to make sure they're free of dust and dirt.

Keeping your window AC clean will keep it functioning. It's something you should do at least every year. If you clean your AC and find you still have problems, then it's probably time to call in a professional to have a look.

Cleaning your AC is just one part of your summer maintenance routine.

At F.L. Davis Ace Home, Hardware & Building Centers your first stop, you can find all the tools you need to keep your AC in top shape.