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How To Clean A Window Air Conditioner That Lost Efficiency

Window air conditioners are easy to neglect. The unit cools a relatively small area by design so it can take time for any arising problems to become noticeable. If your air conditioning has become less efficient over time and barely blows out cold air, you might be able to fix the problem with a simple cleaning. But if the cleaning doesn't seem to improve the problem, call an air conditioning repair service.

Things You Need:

  • Can of compressed air
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment
  • Air filter

Step 1: Remove the AC from the Cabinet

Window air conditioners consist of two main units: the exterior case, called a cabinet, and all of the operating mechanisms on the air conditioner assembly inside that case.

Take the front panel off the air conditioning unit. Inside, you will see the large assembly that makes up the actual air conditioner. Carefully pull that assembly out of the cabinet and place the assembly on a table.

You might want to use a friend or family member to help remove the assembly and the cabinet from the window as one piece, especially if the unit isn't well secured to the window frame. Then you can pull out the assembly and get to work on cleaning.

Step 2: Clean the Cabinet

Cleaning the cabinet is easy and you don't have to worry about damaging anything important. Use a can of compressed air to blow out any dust or debris from within the cabinet. Use a soft brush to help guide that material out of the cabinet.

Use your vacuum hose attachment to suck up any dirt you knocked out of the cabinet.

Step 3: Clean the Assembly

Use more caution when cleaning the assembly so you don't bend or break any of the important mechanisms. Start by removing the filter at the front of the assembly, if you didn't have to do that to separate the cabinet from the assembly.

Turn the assembly around so that you're looking at its back. The coils you see are the condenser coils. Use the compressed air to gently blow out any debris or dirt between the coils. Place the air can down in the assembly and point out through the coils so that you are essentially blowing the air out at you instead of inside the assembly.

Turn the assembly back around and do the same for the evaporator coils on front. If either set of coils has stuck-on dirt, you can use the soft brush to gently clean the dirt away.

Step 4: Clean or Change the Filter

Consult your manufacturer's guide to find out what type of filter you have in your window unit. Some filters can be cleaned using your vacuum hose and then reused. Others you need to replace periodically to keep your unit running efficiently.

If you do need to replace the filter, it's handy to take your existing filter to the store with you to make sure you have the right model.

When all of your cleaning is done, slide the assembly back into the secured cabinet. Place the air filter back on the front and then attach the cabinet cover.