Cleaning and maintaining your air conditioner coils is an important part of maintaining your air conditioning unit. The coils will work more effectively if they are clean. Dirt and debris on the coils will cause them to work harder to function properly. With a little bit of maintenance you, or if you can sucker someone else into it, should be able to keep you air conditioner working well.
One of the easiest ways to keep your coils clean is to keep the area around your air conditioning unit clean. Dirt, leaves, branches and anything else that happens to blow by the air conditioner can cause the coils to get dirty. Regular cleaning around the unit will go a long way towards keeping the coils clean. This is a great chore for a young teen to do, not a something critical, but if done regularly will prevent a lot of the buildup of dirt and debris on the coil. Also regular activity around the air conditioner will also prevent mice snakes and other pests from wanting to nest there.
Tools to have Handy
In order to clean off the coils you will need a few items. Depending on your air conditioner, you will need a screw driver or wrench to remove the screws or bolts to remove the access cover to get to the coils. A pair of work gloves would also be helpful, this will help to prevent cuts and scrapes when working with metal casings and removing debris. Some rags would be helpful, and you will need coil cleaner. I would also recommend some compressed air, such as they use for cleaning computers. And last you need a scrub brush.
Keeping it Safe
Even if you have done this one hundred times before and have never had an issue you should turn off the power. Nature has a way of sending little critters into places when you are not looking and if they have decided to chew a few things there may be an exposed wire where you are not expecting it. With that in mind the work gloves mentioned earlier can also help to prevent getting cut or in rare cases bit. Be sure to wait a few minutes after the power is off to make sure that any residual charge contained in the air conditioner has dissipated.
The Housing Removal
This is relatively simple, take a look at the air conditioning unit and see what needs to be removed. Some air conditioning units have an access panel, with others the entire casing has to be removed. Before you start, make sure you know which type of unit you have. If you have the manual handy take a look at the book. It may show what you need to remove to get at the coils. Remove the casing or panel and be sure to put the screws or bolts someplace safe so you can find them easily. A small Tupperware bowl with a cover works great. Even if you knock it over later, the screws will be safe and the bowl will be easy to spot. Place the casing out of the way of your work area, this will prevent any accidents and damage to the casing.
Time to Clean the Coils
Some people clean the coils on the air conditioner with a water hose. While you can do this, it tends to take the dirt and dust and make a soupy mess. This can be hard to remove. Not to mention that you might accidentally get water into the electrical portion of the air conditioner. If you have a can of compressed air you can blow the dust and dirt out of the air conditioner coil. Be sure if you do this you are wearing protective eye-wear and something to cover your mouth and nose. Once all the loose dirt and dust is blown clear you may need to scrub a little with the scrub brush to get the harder more caked on dirt off. Once all to dirt is off, use the coil cleaner on the coils; this should help to protect the coils from more dirt getting on the coils.
Now that you have everything cleaned up you should put everything back together the same way it was when you started, minus the dirt of course. Make sure you get all of your rags, tools etcetera out of the air conditioner. After everything is back in place, you can turn the power back on. As long as you do this on a regular basis and change or clean your filters you should have a long life on your air conditioner.
See Also: Cleaning your Air Conditioning Filters