6 cool air conditioner cleaning tips


Baby, it’s hot outside! Take good care of your air conditioner or ‘AC’ and it will help you stay cool and sleep well for about 15 to 20 years.

That said, since this major appliance sits forgotten for most of the year when it’s not hot outside, when it is time to wake up, it might make sense to have an HVAC (Heating and Cooling) Expert check in on it to ensure it’s clean, well maintained, repaired (if necessary) and ready to go.

There are some things you can do yourself to clean and maintain your AC, however, a HeyBryan Expert has all the tools, cleaners and knowledge to do it well. They can also advise on potential problems that may be developing, and how to avoid them before they become costly repairs.

The AC Unit – What to do outside your home

Your AC should be cleaned every spring to get it ready for summer. The first step is to turn it off. There may be a switch near the unit and definitely turn it off at your electrical panel as well.

Clean the outside of the unit

The condenser coil works with the evaporator coil to remove hot air out of your home, so the condenser coil should be cleaned every year as it’s likely caked with dirt. Use a brush to gently clean away grass clippings, leaves, plants, vines, dirt and debris. 

If you see bent metal fins, carefully use a butter knife or air conditioner fin comb to gently straighten and remove deeper dirt. This also improves air flow. Don’t push the knife or comb too far as you don’t want to touch or damage the tubes that carry the refrigerant.

Spray a foam coil cleaner onto the fins and after a few minutes, according to the instructions, gently rinse away the dirt.

Clean the inside of the AC unit

Remove the top grill and the fan cage while being careful not to disconnect the wires. Clean out dirt and debris inside the unit using a wet/dry vacuum. Using water from your garden hose, gently spray dirt from the inside out. Don’t use that fun pressure washer that you own – it’s too powerful and could bend the fins. Replace the top cage back when you’re done.

The furnace – What to do inside your home

Now that you’ve cleaned your AC, go inside to the furnace to clean the areas and parts that it depends on.

Clean the evaporator coil and drain pan

Open the evaporator coil door on your furnace. Use a cloth, brush or small hand vacuum to carefully remove dust from the coil. If it’s quite dirty you can buy a special coil cleaner product that doesn’t need to be wiped or rinsed. It just coats it in cleaning foam and drips into the drain pan. The drain pan is likely dirty and may even have algae growing in it, so clean it with soap and water and perhaps a bit of bleach if it’s really bad. Also, pour one cup of 50/50 bleach/water down the drain to also clean it and clear clogs. There are also drain pan tablets you can leave in the pan to ward off algae.

Clean the evaporator drain

Condensation drips from your drain pan into what’s usually a one-inch PVC pipe that goes to a basement floor drain. Algae can also build up inside this tube, so it may need to be unclogged as well. It will probably only take two minutes to clear a clog with a wet/dry vacuum.

AC repairs such as a refrigerant leak or a failed compressor need to be done by a HVAC professional so call a HeyBryan Expert – and free your day to do other things like enjoying the summer and coming home to cool off.


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