tools for an air conditioner service

Tips for Cleaning Your AC System

With summer coming to an end in Lake Forest, now is an ideal time to get ahead on air conditioner maintenance.

If you haven’t cleaned it lately, it could be clogged with mud and yard waste. This buildup can limit your unit’s efficiency and cause it to stop working. Or wear it down more quickly.

We suggest having your air conditioning system professionally maintained every year. Why? A clean system can be more energy efficient, which could save you money on electric expenses.

Consistent AC maintenance also helps our technicians discover and handle small issues before they become costly problems.

Related: How to Keep Your Air Conditioner from Failing

Some of the work we perform involves:

  • Taking a look at the blower, motor, drain line and coils
  • Checking pressure and temperature
  • Reviewing lines, refrigerant totals and connections

It’s not too late to have service done this fall—and we can get your furnace ready for heating season too.

Schedule maintenance now


There’s also some maintenance you can do on your own between professional tune-ups. You just need about an hour to wash your outdoor condenser unit, as well as a few components on your indoor HVAC system.

Related: How Often Should You Expect to Get Air Conditioning Service Done?

How to Clean Your Outside AC Unit

Pick a warm day to wash your air conditioner. At least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) is great. That way, you can test the unit once you’ve cleaned it.

You’ll only need a couple of items:

  • Wet-dry vacuum and hose with a soft brush attachment
  • Screwdriver
  • Butter knife
  • Damp rag
  • Small, round paintbrush
  • Replacement furnace filter (if necessary)

Related: How AC Repair and Maintenance Can Actually Save You Money

5 Steps to Clean the Outside Unit

1. Turn Off the Power

Switch off the juice to your air conditioner at the breaker box.

2. Clean the Outside

Empty debris from the unit. This includes branches, bushes, weeds and grass.

Then run the vacuum to cautiously clean the metallic fins. These parts are also referred to as condenser coils and divert heat away from your equipment.

You need to be careful with these delicate coils. Misshapen or crumpled fins can affect efficiency.

3. Fix Bent Fins

Use a butter knife to adjust bent fins. You can also buy a fin comb from an appliance parts store. A pro from 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. should take care of severe damage.

4. Clean the Inside

After removing the fan, pull out leaves and other yard waste. Then wipe the inside of the system with a wet sponge.

The only coil cleaner you have to have is water. Use slight pressure from a hose nozzle to rinse the fins, directing water from the inside out. Replace the fan once you’re done.

5. Test Your Air Conditioner

Now it’s time to restore power and turn your air conditioner back on. If it’s not operating like it should, reach out to us a call at 949-204-0859.

Related: Air Conditioner Service: Pay a Little Now, Save Later

3 Steps to Clean the Indoor Unit

1. Turn Off the Power

Cut the power to your furnace at the breaker box.

2. Check Your Filter

Furnace filters need to be replaced every several months, depending on the type you use.

Not sure when you last replaced yours? Pull it out and tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, buy a new one.

3. Clean the Inside

Remove the blower door and vacuum up dust.

Then examine your air conditioner’s drain line—it’s a flexible plastic tube. If it’s moldy, you can clean it by draining diluted bleach through the tube to clean the line. Or you can replace the tube.

Clean the drain port using a small, round paintbrush. Hook up the drain tube and switch the power back on.

Related: How to Keep Your Air Conditioner Running Well Through Fall

Never Forget a Tune-Up Again

Annual air conditioner maintenance from 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. can make your equipment more efficient and help it last longer. We also offer practical service agreements, so you won’t forget to schedule your regular tune-up!

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