As a homeowner in Vancouver, you understand how important it is to maintain your residence and the appliances in it. This is especially true when discussing your HVAC system. HVAC coils need regular maintenance, cleaning, and repair to function efficiently. You may wonder, what is the right way to clean an air conditioning unit? Some have suggested using a power washer. However, is this a safe way to clean your air conditioning equipment?
Never Use a Power Washer on Your AC Unit
You should clean your air conditioner coils every spring and fall. Focus on removing leaves, pollen, and dust that can inhibit proper airflow. You could damage your unit if your air conditioning coils are not clean. However, you never want to use a power washer on your AC.
Power washers damage the air conditioning unit. They pump out thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch. Some think using a small pressure washer or a battery-powered pressure washer can clean the unit without issue. The truth is that even smaller units create a mighty pressured water stream.
Your pressure washer is great for cleaning off the concrete, aluminum siding, or brick. However, it is the worst option for the soft, malleable metal that makes up parts of your air conditioning unit, like aluminum and copper.
At Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow, we have seen some AC units destroyed by power washing. Replacing an AC unit with its coils destroyed is extremely expensive and time-consuming.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that they can carefully clean their AC coils with a power washer. Don’t be fooled. To avoid damaging your AC unit, leave the pressure washer in the garage and use safer techniques for cleaning and maintaining your cooling equipment.
How Often Should You Clean a Central AC Unit?
You should check the filters once every 30 to 60 days. If you have pets or live in an area with a lot of dust, you will need to change your filter more frequently. Swapping out your air filters is a simple preventative measure you can take to keep the unit working efficiently, save yourself money on your monthly energy bills, and keep your unit running smoothly for the long term.
Cleaning the condenser unit, which is the part of your AC that sits outdoors, is a vital part of central air conditioning maintenance. This should be done twice a year but may need to be done more often, depending on where your unit is located and if the area is prone to a lot of debris. The goal is to keep the area around your condenser unit free of debris. It would help if you cleared a two-foot radius around your air conditioner to prevent plants or other wildlife from affecting it.
Steps for Cleaning Your Central AC Unit
Start by powering off your AC unit. This is a crucial safety protocol. Find the AC vent cover. This could be situated under the window or on the wall, ceiling, or floor. Now, remove the vent cover using a screwdriver or the vent cover push tabs to open it. Remove the filter and clean it or replace it with a new one.
Move to the outdoor unit. Turn off the outside breaker switch, which is typically found under a flip lid next to the condenser unit.
Take the top off of the condenser unit. The unit’s manual should provide instructions on how to do this properly. Next, remove any debris built up around or inside the unit. You can use a vacuum cleaner to reach parts of the unit that are difficult to clean by hand.
Use a hose, not a power washer, to thoroughly clean the unit. Remove any remaining dirt, making sure not to get the electrical box wet.
Finally, let the condenser unit completely dry. Then, turn the unit back on to enjoy the cool air produced by your air conditioner. Many people don’t have the time, expertise, or confidence to clean their AC unit independently. This is why the team at Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow proudly offers professional cleaning and maintenance services for all our customers. This includes maintaining the unit, cleaning the unit, and identifying any repairs that may be needed.
Choosing the Right Filters for Your Air Conditioner
As mentioned, dirty filters can destroy an air conditioner’s efficiency. Replace your filters frequently. Find filters with a MERV rating that’s right for your air purification needs. Filters will have a rating from one to 12 for residential use. The higher the rating, the better filtration it provides. However, the higher the rating, the more energy your unit will need to pull air through the filter. Finding one that strikes the right balance between energy costs and air quality is the ideal.
Inspect Your Ductwork for Leaks
Did you know that your AC unit can lose up to 30% of airflow through leaks? Repairing, maintaining, or replacing your home ductwork is key to getting the maximum benefit from your air conditioner.
There are a few signs that indicate your ductwork is leaking, like higher than usual energy bills and signs of minute tears around the joints.
Cleaning and Maintaining the Coils
Another essential maintenance tip is servicing your compressor or condenser. The air compressor is located outside of your house next to your foundation. There should be around two feet of clear space around the unit. This means getting rid of tall grass, shrubs, leaves, or hanging branches that can produce debris that will impact the functioning of your unit.
It’s recommended that homeowners consider scheduling yearly professional cleanings for their AC equipment. This is more than just cleaning or replacing the filters. At Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow, we recommend that our clients schedule this cleaning before the cool season starts. Annual cleaning includes cleaning and inspecting the coils, cleaning and replacing filters, adjusting fan belts, lubricating moving parts, checking controls and safety systems, and calibrating the thermostat.
Keeping up with a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule will help you determine when it is the right time to repair or replace your unit. The average lifespan of an AC system is between 12 and 20 years. That timeline depends on the type of system you purchased and the consistency of cleaning and maintenance. Caring for your AC system maximizes its working life and ensures a higher efficiency level for a longer time.
However, even with the best cleaning and maintenance, energy efficiency dwindles and repairs are required more frequently. When you notice that your old system is not as reliable as you want it to be, don’t wait for it to crash completely. Instead, talk to us at Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow, and we can help you plan to replace your system on your terms.
Creating a Refreshing Home Environment in Vancouver, BC
At Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow, the comfort of our clients is our primary concern. We are a comprehensive team of professionals with extensive experience working with modern brands and models of HVAC systems. We are honest and provide our clients with up-front estimates for the work. Whether you need commercial HVAC services, water heaters repair or replacement, air balancing, air purification, or a VRF system, we are the only name you need to call. Contact us at Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow today.