This post teaches you how to clean outside AC unit.

Many homeowners focus on the well-being of the inside air conditioner and forget about the outdoor air conditioning unit. Remember that your outdoor AC is exposed to more dirt and dust yet it is a vital part of your central air conditioner. If you don’t clean it as needed, you will notice negative performance changes. Eventually, you will need to cater for an untimely breakdown. 

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So, how do you clean the outside AC unit? What is the importance of cleaning it? Are there dos and don’t s of cleaning the outdoor air conditioner unit?

Come with us as we discuss these in detail.

How to Clean AC Unit Outside 

Before we get into the process, collect the tools and equipment you will need to clean your outside air conditioner.

What you will need:

  • Air conditioning coil cleaner (follow your air conditioner manufacturer’s recommendations when selecting a cleaning agent)
  • A vacuum cleaner 
  • Water hose with sprayer
  • eye protection wear
  • Foam cleaner.

Remember that this process is just about cleaning regular duct and debris accumulation. There is a different process on how to clean mold out of AC. 

Okay, let’s dive into how to clean your outside AC. 

Step 1: Clear Debris and Landscaping

Some dirt or leaves could be sticking out from your air conditioning condenser. If you can reach them with ease, pull them out.

Clearing this will make it easy to access stubborn dirt.

You may also notice that there are cobwebs. Gently brush the cobwebs off.

The next step would be to remove or trim any plants or landscaping growing in the way of the air conditioner. Ensure that there is no growth at least 2 meters around the unit. Them being so close minimizes airflow in and out of the AC system.

Also, ensure there is no fencing or hangings such as potted plants blocking the outdoor AC unit. This includes the side and the top of the machine.

Step 2: Deactivate Power

Turn off the power from your AC unit. This step will help prevent electricity flow and protect you during the cleaning process.

Switch off the power, usually next to the machine at the outdoor box. Alternatively, you can switch off the circuit breaker panel for your home.

If you cannot find it, check in the basement, garage, outside along the wall and even the laundry or storage rooms.

Step 3: Use a Hose Pipe to Spray Water

After ensuring no electricity flow in your central air conditioner, it is time to get the dirt off.

Use your regular garden hose pipe to spray on the dislodged dirt. Start from the sides of the AC to the very top.

Remember to go back and forth to remove as much grime as possible. Also, ensure you hose the top of the system as much as the sides.

Step 4: Apply a Foam Air Conditioner Cleaner for a Thorough Clean

Usually, there will be gunk accumulating, especially on the condenser coils. In this situation, just soaking the AC coils in water may not work.

Apply a foam coil cleaner to the condenser coils. Ensure you fully cover the lengths of each one of them. Then, let it soak for around 5-10 minutes.

The foaming cleanser helps break down the dirt particles. This allows you to wash the dirt off easily. You can find a foam cleaner for your outdoor condenser coils and evaporator coil in your local hardware store. If you cannot find it, you can easily shop for it online.

Step 5: Spray Water Again to Remove Loosened Dirt

After the foam soaks for around 10 minutes, you can use a hosepipe.

Avoid using strong streaming of water from your hose; it will destroy your condenser coils. With damaged AC coils, indoor cooling air will be problematic.

A consistent flow of water should work well. If the pressure is strong, you can use your finger to regulate it. This is a sure way to protect your condenser fins.

Never power-wash your AC units(1).

While spraying, ensure you do it from different angles. While at it, take a clear look to see if the dirt is cleaned. Spray more where you still see the dirt.

Step 6: Wait for AC To Dry and Then Switch on the Central Air Conditioner

After cleaning the outdoor air conditioner from top to bottom, ensuring no dirt and debris from the cooling fins, you can wait for at least 15 minutes.

There, you now have a clean outdoor unit!

Cleaning outdoor air conditioners is something you do once or twice a year. What you have done is just a simple yet proper maintenance practice that will last you for months.

Enjoy the benefits of a clean condenser unit and outdoor AC unit.

Why is a Dirty Outdoor Air Conditioning Unit a Problem?

Cleaning your outside air conditioning system will go a long way in enhancing the performance of your entire central air conditioner.

Here are reasons why a clean outside air conditioner is necessary during a cooling season:

  • The parts of the AC units are interdependent. If your outdoor condenser unit is dirty and malfunctioning, it will affect other parts such as the condenser fan, fan motor, air handler, and evaporator coil.
  • The outdoor condenser coils are responsible for cooling down the hot refrigerant. The refrigerant won’t be cooled if dirt and debris prevent proper airflow around your outdoor system. It will retain the heat it absorbed from the indoor air. The refrigerant can absorb no more heat, leaving your house hot.
  • A dirty outside air conditioner wastes energy. If the refrigerant cannot absorb heat, the machine will have to work harder to achieve the set temperatures on your thermostat. Working harder and for longer will consume more electricity.
  • AC unit breakdowns: If your cooling system is overworking due to dirt and debris build-up, there will be a breakdown soon. You may soon have to call for air conditioning repair services to fix a broken down AC to ensure it is working correctly again.

When to Call a Professional Technician When Cleaning Outdoor AC Unit

Cleaning your outdoor AC unit is simple. With the step-by-step guide, we have your cooling system working properly.

However, sometimes, it is better to let a professional technician work on cleaning your air conditioning. Sometimes, you may think that you need to clean the outdoor unit, but you need a professional diagnosis and AC rebuilding.

Here is when to give us a call at HVAC Santa Clarita:

  • Your outdoor AC unit is heavily soiled, and cleaning it will need professional intervention.
  • You have not cleaned your outside air conditioner for years,
  • The entire system is still malfunctioning or not working correctly even after a thorough cleaning.

Give us a call for services related to HVAC Los Angeles County, and we will help you get your air conditioning unit back in perfect working order. If you keep putting off the cleaning of outside air conditioners, you will soon have to face poor performance and breakdowns.

How to Clean Outside AC Unit Frequently Asked Questions

We respond to some FAQs on how to properly clean your AC unit. With this knowledge and information, you should be able to clean your AC unit without a pro.

How do I clean my outdoor Air Conditioner unit Without Removing it?

One reason for outside AC unit making loud noise is loose screws. This is why you want to clean it without removing or unscrewing it. 

Follow these steps to clean it without removing it:

  • clear any loose debris and plants around the outdoor unit,
  • Switch off the power,
  • use a fin comb to straighten bent fin combs,
  • vacuum down lose dirt from top to bottom, or use a soft brush,
  • hose down any stubborn dirt,
  • use a no-rinse coil cleaner or foam cleaner to loosen stubborn grime,
  • please wait for the cleaner to soak in for approximately 10 minutes and then hose it down repeatedly until it is clean.
  • Wait for the system to dry, and then Voila, you have a cleaned your AC without removing it.

Can I hose down my air conditioner?

Yes, you can use your garden hose to clean dirt from your outdoor AC. You need to ensure that the stream of water is not too strong to destroy or bend the fins. Use your thumb to regulate the water pressure.

Can I spray my outside AC unit with water?

Yes, there is no harm. A lot of times, people prefer using compressed air. However, for stuck gunk, using a gentle stream of water will do the work. There is no harm in cleaning it with water.

Do outdoor AC units need to be cleaned?

Yes, we recommend that you clean your outdoor AC unit once or twice a year. Letting dirt accumulate affects its proper functioning.

How Often Should You Clean the Outside Air Conditioning Unit?

Twice a year is the most ideal.

Once just before summer and once in fall(2).

Can You Clean your AC Unit Yourself

Yes, cleaning your AC unit is a simple DIY you can do yourself. And, you do not need to call a professional. However, it is always safe to receive guidance from your local HVAC technician if you are in doubt.

Final Thoughts on How to Clean Outside AC Unit

You have your clean outside AC, and you may not need to do it again for months!

It is a simple process that many homeowners overlook, but it goes a long way in enhancing the performance of your entire central air conditioner. We, therefore, encourage you to do it, especially at the onset of the cooling system.

However, if you would love a helping hand, we would gladly help you during your regular AC maintenance service visit from us. Give us a call today at HVAC Santa Clarita, and we will gladly help give your AC unit the optimal performance it needs.

call 661-888-0248

Contact us 24/7 for HVAC services!


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