Heating Systems

How to clean an air conditioner wall unit?

Heating Trends on December 1, 2022

Air conditioners require periodic maintenance and servicing in order for them to function flawlessly and to be energy efficient. We've prepared a guide to help you to easily maintain your unit.

#air conditioner

How to clean an air conditioner wall unit?

Neglecting to maintain an AC unit allows the development of bacteria and molds, increases its electricity consumption, decreases its air conditioning effect and shortens its lifespan.

Maintaining and cleaning air conditioners is worth the effort. Your health is the most important, and besides the efficiency reasons, with proper maintenance of the climate, it will be more pleasant and healthier to stay in the room.

Efficiency reasons

Does it ever feel like your air conditioner isn't as efficient as before once you turn it on for the first time after a longer period of not being used? You're not the only one. It's quite common for air conditioners to work in full operation and not produce the same amount of warm/cool air and don't blow air with the same intensity. Although the reason behind this could be a malfunction of some sort, in most cases your air conditioner simply needs to be thoroughly cleaned or serviced.

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Health reasons

When we do a general cleaning of our house or apartment, it may not come to mind that air conditioner needs to be cleaned as well, which is important to ensure the best air quality and lower heating or cooling costs. This is especially important for household members with respiratory issues or allergies, but it's not ideal for healthy members either, because irregular air conditioner maintenance could be a trigger for the development of some respiratory issues or reactions in the body.

Air conditioners draw air from the room, cool it or heat it, dehumidify it and pass it through filters before blowing it back into the room. Because air is constantly recirculated through filters and a heat exchanger, they will retain and accumulate dust and air particles which contain microorganisms. Since the microclimate inside the unit is warm and damp, it allows these microorganisms to grow and reproduce.

We've all heard about the Legionnaires' disease lurking in air conditioners, an atypical pneumonia caused caused by an aerosol contaminated with concentrated Legionella, a pathogenic bacteria.

Legionella can be found in air conditioning units, but also in some other devices that circulate water in enclosed systems, such as air humidifiers, ice machines and others. In addition to legionella, air conditioners are an ideal place for the development of other bacteria and molds which can cause chronic cough and eye and skin irritation.

For this reason, air conditioners should be regularly maintained and serviced, because only with regular care can an air conditioner function flawlessly and last longer.

What parts of the air conditioner should be cleaned?

The easiest thing we can do ourselves is to clean the air filters inside the indoor unit. Once a month would be optimal, but it would be ideal to clean them every two weeks if the air conditioner is used a lot, especially if used as a primary heating system. You should also periodically disinfect the indoor unit and give it a visual check and call a service technician if you notice something's not right in the operation of the air conditioner.

Outdoor AC unit should also be periodically maintained and kept clean of dust, leaves or dirt that can accumulate. The drain pipe and condensate drain pan should also be maintained to remove sludge and mold deposits.

What do you need to clean the air conditioner?

  • Warm water with a few drops of dish soap or similar cleaning agent.
  • Air conditioning cleaner - biodegradable, acid-free foaming agent for cleaning air filters, evaporators and air-cooled condensers.
  • Air conditioner disinfection spray for air conditioners, effective against a wide range of bacteria and viruses, and prevents the development of mold and unpleasant odors.

Here's a quick rundown of the simple steps for cleaning the indoor unit of an air conditioner:

  • Remove the air filters and wash them thoroughly with warm water and a cleaning agent. After the filter is dry, spray it with a disinfectant spray, put the air filter back into the device.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to clean all the dust and dirt from the evaporator.
  • Spray the evaporator with cleaning spray, allow the foam to drain and dry on the evaporator (you can turn on the air conditioner in this step to speed up the drying process).
  • Spray the evaporator with disinfectant spray.

How to clean the air conditioner filters

Air filters collect dust, dirt and germs which can accumulate over time and cause filters to become clogged and retain moisture and mold. This isn't good for neither your health nor the air conditioner, so it's best to regularly clean the filters.

By preventing the normal flow of air through the filter, dirt is directly transferred to the evaporator and the absorption capacity is reduced. By cleaning or replacing the filter, the consumption of the air conditioner can be reduced by up to 15%.

In room air conditioners, the filters are located immediately behind the cover of the indoor unit. First, turn off and unplug the air conditioner, remove the cover of the unit.

Taking out air conditioner filter

Now pull the filters, take them out of the unit and soak them in warm water with a couple of drops of dish washing soap for about half an hour.

Cleaning dusty air conditioner filter

Before returning the filters in to the indoor unit, dry the filters and use a damp cloth to clean the unit cover as the cover can sometimes collect some dust too.

Wiping air conditioner cover

How to clean the air conditioner evaporator

The indoor unit heat exchanger, also called an evaporating coil, or simply evaporator, collects dust and also dirt over time despite filters collecting the majority of the dust and protecting the evaporator. When the evaporator accumulates dust, the air conditioner doesn't run as efficiently and air flow becomes reduced.

Although it's pretty easy to clean the evaporator, some might prefer to call a service technician to do the job. If you decide to try it yourself, follow these few simple steps.

Cleaning air conditioner evaporator with spray foam
  • Turn off and unplug the air conditioner.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to clean all the dust and dirt from the evaporator.
  • Spray the evaporator with a cleaning spray, allowing the foam to drain (you can turn on the air conditioner in this step to speed up the drying process).
  • Spray the evaporator with disinfectant spray.

How to clean the condensate discharge pipe

The external condensate discharge pipe should be inspected every once in a while and all blockages should be removed along with sludge and mold deposits.

  • Turn off and unplug the air conditioner.
  • Find the access point of the condensate drain pipe.
  • Pour distilled vinegar or cleaning solution and let it work for about half an hour.
  • Pour water to clean the pipe, or turn on the air conditioner.

Cover the outdoor unit to protect it when the air conditioner is not used

If you don't use the air conditioner for heating during winter, and live in northern regions, you could cover the outdoor unit to protect it from the effects of the weather if the outdoor unit is accessible.