In many parts of the country, warm weather has already arrived, bringing with it the need for cold drinks, sun shades, and getting your air conditioner running for the season. Since your air conditioner sat over the winter and collected debris, it is important to prepare it for use by cleaning it inside and out. Here are some tips to help you clean your air conditioner unit and get it ready for summer's use.

Clean the Condenser's Exterior 

Before you turn on your air conditioning unit for the summer to test it out, it is imperative to remove any cover from your exterior condenser. Leaving the cover in place while running the air conditioner can prevent air from flowing into the unit, causing the motor to work overtime and damaging your unit. Calling for an air conditioner repair professional is not the best way to start your summer, so, first, remove the cover. Next, turn off the exterior electricity to your unit.

The area around your air conditioner's condenser may be surrounded by leaves, twigs, garbage, and other debris. Remove all the debris, and then trim any bushes, branches, or other vegetation growing around your unit. It is recommended that you leave two feet of clearance around your air conditioning unit to prevent interference with your outdoor unit and to help it work as efficiently as possible.

If your air conditioner works on a heat pump, it is recommended that you keep its base free of any mulch. Mulch around an AC unit can block the airflow around its base, and a heat pump requires air circulation beneath the unit to help cool it during use.

Clean the Condenser's Interior 

Next, prepare to clean the interior of the condenser by removing the unit's exterior cover and grill. Unscrew any bolts holding this into place, and lift the cover from the unit. Be mindful of any electrical wiring connected to the cover that you don't pull it from its housing. 

Wearing work gloves, remove any leaves or other debris that have fallen into the inside of the unit. The interior fan may also be covered in dirt and debris, so you can use your garden hose to spray it clean. Use a scrub brush and some warm, soapy water to help dislodge any stuck-on debris from the fan. 

The coils of your unit's interior can also become coated in dirt and debris and should be cleaned regularly. Dirty coils can cause your air conditioning unit to be less effective, as the dirt prevents effective transfer of heat from the coils during the unit's operation. In other words, when the coils are covered in dirt, the heat carried within them cannot transfer to the outside air. This results in your air conditioner having to work extra to cool your home to the same level, leaving you with a higher energy bill at the end of each month.

Clean your unit's coils by spraying them with a garden hose using a nozzle attachment, or you can use an AC coil cleaner, which can be found at most home improvement stores. If you decide to use a cleaner, follow the directions on the container for safe use. Spray water onto the coils, followed by applying the cleaning solution. Wait the appropriate amount of time for the cleaner to begin working on the dirt and debris, then rinse it clean with your garden hose.

After you have rinsed the cleaner fully from the coils, replace the cover and grill unit onto your condenser and reattach any screws to hold it into place. Finish your spring maintenance by changing the filter located inside your home's air conditioner blower unit. Remember to check your filter every month and replace it when it gets dirty.

Use these tips to help you prepare your air conditioner for the upcoming warm weather. Contact a local HVAC service for more info.