Tips for Cleaning Your AC System

September 20, 2019

With summer winding down in San Jose, now is a great time to get a kick start on air conditioner maintenance.

If you haven’t taken care of it recently, it could be full of dirt and yard waste. This collection can limit your unit’s efficiency and cause it to malfunction. Or make it wear out sooner.

We advise having your air conditioning system professionally tuned-up every year. Why? Clean equipment can be more energy efficient, which could save you money on electric expenses.

Regular AC maintenance also helps our technicians spot and take care of slight issues before they develop into expensive problems.

Related: How to Keep Your Air Conditioner from Failing

Some of the work we complete involves:

  • Inspecting the blower, motor, drain line and coils
  • Watching pressure and temperature
  • Examining lines, refrigerant levels and connections

There’s still time to have a tune-up done this fall—and we can get your furnace ready for heating season too.

Schedule maintenance now


There’s also some maintenance you can do on your own between professional tune-ups. It only takes about an hour to get the grime off your outdoor condenser unit, as well as a few pieces on your indoor HVAC system.

Related: How Often Should You Expect to Get Air Conditioning Service Done?

How to Clean Your Outside AC Unit

Pick a mild day to wash your air conditioner. At least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) is best. That way, you can run your equipment once you’ve cleaned it.

You’ll only need a handful of tools:

  • Wet-dry vacuum and hose with a soft brush attachment
  • Screwdriver
  • Butter knife
  • Damp rag
  • Small, round paintbrush
  • Replacement furnace filter (if necessary)

Related: How AC Repair and Maintenance Can Actually Save You Money

5 Steps to Clean the Outside Unit

1. Turn Off the Power

Cut the electricity to your air conditioner at the breaker box.

2. Clean the Outside

Remove waste from the unit. This includes branches, bushes, weeds and grass.

Then use the vacuum to cautiously clean the metallic fins. These pieces are also known as condenser coils and transfer heat away from your unit.

You need to be cautious with these fragile coils. Warped or crushed fins can influence efficiency.

3. Fix Bent Fins

Use a butter knife to rearrange bent fins. You can also buy a fin comb from an appliance parts store. A pro from American HVAC Inc should handle severe damage.

4. Clean the Inside

After removing the fan, fish out leaves and other yard rubbish. Then mop the inside of the unit with a wet rag.

The only coil cleaner you should use is water. Use light pressure from a hose nozzle to wash the fins, spraying water from the inside out. Replace the fan once you’re completed.

5. Test Your Air Conditioner

Now it’s time to restore power and turn your air conditioner back on. If it’s not running correctly, reach out to us a call at 408-215-1018.

Related: Air Conditioner Service: Pay a Little Now, Save Later

3 Steps to Clean the Indoor Unit

1. Turn Off the Power

Cut the electricity to your furnace at the breaker box.

2. Check Your Filter

Furnace filters must be replaced every several months, depending on the kind you use.

Unsure when you last checked yours? Pull it out and tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, buy a new one.

3. Clean the Inside

Remove the blower door and vacuum up dust.

Then take a look at your air conditioner’s drain line—it’s a flexible plastic tube. If it’s scummy, you can sanitize it by draining water-down bleach through the tube to flush the line. Or you can buy a new tube.

Clean the drain port using a small, round paintbrush. Reconnect the drain tube and turn the power back on.

Related: How to Keep Your Air Conditioner Running Well Through Fall

Never Forget a Tune-Up Again

Annual air conditioner maintenance from American HVAC Inc can make your system more efficient and help it last longer. We also offer handy service agreements, so you won’t forget to plan your regular maintenance!