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How to Maintain Your Outdoor AC Unit

Every homeowner should know that in order to heat your home more efficiently, your AC unit needs to be well maintained. And while many homeowners focus on cleaning the indoor unit, a lot of them tend to neglect the outdoor component completely. If you noticed your AC system was not as efficient in cooling your home during the summer, chances are you’ve neglected cleaning the outdoor unit, also called the AC condenser unit.

However, if you plan on using your air conditioner to keep your home warm during the winter, it’s imperative to clean the condenser unit regularly during the fall. With a lot of debris piled up over the last couple of months, coupled with the falling leaves chances are your AC system is going to be significantly less efficient unless you remove all the debris from the condenser.

If that doesn’t solve your issue, you should contact a reputable service company to check the coolant levels in your AC system. You can learn more about why professional maintenance is important at this link:

In this article, we’ll explain how you can properly clean the air conditioning system on your own.

How to Clean the Condenser Unit?

When cleaning the outdoor unit, make sure the outside temperature is at least 60 degrees so you can properly test the AC system after you clean it. The outside unit is usually placed in a concealed spot around your home. Two copper tubes lead to the outdoor unit, usually covered by foam sleeves.

To clean the outside unit you have to clean the condenser fins. These are thin metal blades covering the unit. The blades tend to get dirty as air circulates through them pulling in unwanted debris, leaves, dust, grass, etc. All of the debris can prevent airflow and significantly reduce the efficiency of the AC system.

Before you proceed, make sure the unit is unplugged. Look for a switch, fuse block or a pull lever near the unit.

Next, use a soft brush to clean the fins. They are very fragile and can easily be bent, so take extra care not to damage them. Most new units are covered in a metal box you will have to unscrew and lift. You can find out the proper way to access the fins in the user manual. Sometimes you’ll find the fins have already been bent. You can use a set of fin combs available in most appliance parts stores to straighten them. If the fins aren’t bent too much you can use a blunt kitchen knife to straighten them. However, if the fins are badly damaged you might want to leave the straightening to a professional.

After you’ve cleaned the fins, remove the fan to access the inside of the condenser unit. As the fan is connected to the rest of the unit through wiring, you will not be able to remove it completely so make sure not to tear the cables trying to remove the fan. Vacuum the debris from inside the unit.

Finally, check if the motor powering the fan is lubricated. If you have a newer AC system make, chances are the bearings are sealed and cannot be lubricated. You can find this information in the user manual. If you can find the lubrication ports oil them with five drops of motor oil. Avoid penetrating and all-purpose oil as they can damage the bearings.

After you’ve finished cleaning, restart the outside unit and test the system now. If you feel overwhelmed by all this information and need a professional service in Southern California to handle the maintenance for you, contact Action Air Conditioning & Heating of San Diego at 4455 Murphy Canyon Rd Suite 100–5, San Diego, CA 92123, USA 800-400-4152

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