in: Homeownership, Lifestyle

Keep Your House Cooler With a Quick 10-Minute Clean of Your Air Conditioner

Got your home’s air conditioner chugging away, but your house doesn’t feel as cool as you think it would? It might be time to clean up its condenser.

The outside condenser unit of your central air conditioner is basically a giant fan surrounded by tiny metal fins (there’s also a condenser in there). These tiny fins can get caked with dust, pollen, and other detritus, reducing airflow from your unit. Reduced airflow means a less efficient air conditioner, which means a warmer house and more expensive energy bills. 

You can increase your cooling efficiency and save some money in just 10 minutes by cleaning the fins of all that build-up. 

Here’s how to do it. 

Step 1: Turn off the electric power to your air-conditioning unit. 

Mine has a switch mounted on the wall right above my unit. Some units have a disconnect box where you have to pull out the disconnect block. Check your A/C’s owner’s manual to find out how to turn off the electric power to your unit. 

Step 2: Hose it down with your garden hose.

Cleaning out the fins on your outdoor unit is as simple as spraying them down with a garden hose. Use moderate water pressure. If you use too much pressure, you risk bending and crimping the metal fins in the unit which will block airflow. 

Look into the unit from above. You should be seeing water come through the fins. If you don’t, they’re still blocked. Keep hosing. 

Depending on how clogged up your fins are, you should be able to knock this out in 10 minutes. Mine were especially clogged when I cleaned them out this week. I had to do two hosings to get out all the gunk. 

Some of the gunk that got washed out of my A/C. Looks like a dead rodent.

Step 3: Turn the power back on.

Enjoy your more efficient air conditioner and that extra cash in your pocket.

This is a home maintenance task that you should do once a year, ideally before the summer season hits. 

Be sure to check out this article for more tips on keeping your house cooler in the summer (without having to crank the A/C). And for a review of other household maintenance tasks you should be keeping up with, we’ve got a handy checklist here.

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