Clean the condenser fins

(Okay, not quick OR easy, but not hard, and really important)

As a home inspector in the Stillwater area, I see a lot of A/C units that are full of dirt, or dogwood tree stuff (or dryer lint if the clothes dryer is close to the unit. I know, right? Who would choose to put them so close together?)

Dirty fins restrict air and waste money

Your A/C condenser is that big thing next to the house. Cool air gets sucked in from the sides and warm air blows out the top. If the fins are dirty, the air can’t cool off the refrigerant inside the coils. That wastes money. Cleaning the fins is free and not too hard.

Here’s how.

1. Turn off the power. Safety first. Look for a pull-out plug on the house near the unit. You won’t be doing anything with the wires, but why take the chance? Pull that thing out, and remember to close the cover, just to be sure no water gets in. Some folks go the extra yard and turn off the circuit breaker in the electric panel in the house. Just sayin’.

Your AC unit has an outside disconnect so someone can work on the unit without going into the house.

2. Take off the top of the unit. Use a hex nut driver to remove the screws. Be careful not to bend those fins, or air will be restricted. Are the fins bent? No worries. You can straighten them yourself with combs made just for that job. Here’s an example;

With the lid off, look inside and take any leaves and such by hand or long nozzle of a shop vac. Don’t take off the screws that hold the motor to the frame. Place a towel over the service panel, just in case a stream of water hits it.

3. Spray cleaner on the fins. There are a few choices for cleaners. You want whatever the manufacturer of your unit recommends. Be sure to follow the directions for proper mixing. Don’t mess with this stuff, it’s highly acidic.

4. Spray water from the inside. Not too strong of a stream,. Patience is a virtue (I’ve been told). When you’re done, you should be able to see daylight through the fins. If you’re like me (and I know am), you’ll be surprised by the amount of stuff that comes out while you’re washing it.

 

 

4. Put the top back on the unit and replace the screws. Know why? You’re done. That wasn’t too bad, was it?

Want to know more? (Have you considered getting a hobby?) HandymanHowTo.com has a GREAT article. Just click even more about cleaning AC coils

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About the author

Joe has many years of experience as a Home Inspector. Joe is a proud member of ASHI, MAHI, WAHI & SAAR. He follows the Best Practices as described by the American Association of Home Inspectors and the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors. He is licensed in Wisconsin and is Radon Certified. Joe also complies with ASHI's Code of Ethics.

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