No ‘sweat’ to clean the air conditioner

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

I am not a tall person. I range from 4 feet, 11 inches to 5 feet depending on the day and the person measuring me. Naturally, I have come up with ways to access otherwise out-of-reach items in the home.

I have an As-Seen-on-TV claw arm to reach things in the upper cabinets in the kitchen and stools strategically placed around the house for other items. In my daughter, Lina’s, room her window air conditioner sits about a head higher than my own. To control it, I usually use the app on my phone.

However, not too long ago, I found myself in her room, sweating from the heat and without my phone. I climbed onto her dresser and turned it on manually. It was then that I realized how dirty the unit really was. Black mold covered the vents and made me feel guilty that Lina had been breathing this dirty air for who knows how long.

My husband and I clean the air filter weekly, but it never dawned on me that the whole unit could use a deep cleaning. The dirtier the unit, the harder it will have to work to cool the room. This results not only in potentially dirty air but also in a higher electric bill. If you have a window A/C unit, you may want to consider giving yours a good look and a good cleaning, too.

First, unplug the unit. Then, remove it from the mount and set it down outside. Keep any screws or mounting hardware in a safe spot so that you can easily reinstall it once you are done. A deep clean requires removing the unit and un-screwing the casing so that you can get into the parts that collect mold.

Remove and clean the air filter as usual. Wash it with soap and water and allow it to dry before putting it back. If it is disposable, replace it.

Then, using a fin comb and rubber or leather gloves, comb out the fins so that you can straighten any bent ones. Insert the comb by matching it with the spacing of the coils and comb in an upward motion.

Next, use the attachment on your vacuum cleaner to pick up any spider webs, dust or debris from the inside. Spray them with an air conditioning cleaning solution and follow manufacturer instructions. Often, this entails letting the solution sit for several minutes before scrubbing and rinsing clean. With the unit open, you can also access the fan blades. Wipe them clean using all-purpose cleaner and a soft rag.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefi xisinhawaii@gmail.com.