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Tips to Maintain Your AC Unit

Do you find yourself having to choose between keeping your home at a comfortable temperature or braving the heat to save on your AC bills? Well, the experts at Action Air are here to save you from high AC costs and heat stroke by sharing the following tips to maintain your AC unit.

The Basic Parts of Your Unit

Before we share our tips to maintain your AC unit, you will need to know the basic parts that keep it running. Most units have 2 main parts:

  1. An outdoor unit: This unit usually sits next to your home. It contains the compressor, condenser coil and a fan.


  1. An indoor unit: This unit is in a central duct near your furnace. It contains the evaporator coil and air filter. If you have a heat pump instead of a furnace, your indoor unit will be in the air handler. The air handler is usually inside the home, either in a closet or in the attic.

Maintenance Tips:

  • Keep Your AC Pad from Sinking:

The concrete pad under your outdoor unit tends to settle over the years. If the pad continues to sink and pulls the lines tight, or if you notice water puddles around the unit, you will need to replace it. Work a long board under one end of the pad to lift it up, then pack sand under it. Do the same on the other end to make the pad level. Then, break up and remove the pad and replace it with a new one. Consider replacing it with a plastic pad.


  • Keep it Clean:

This is one of the simplest and one of the most important tips to maintain your AC unit. Follow these steps:

  1. Turn Off the Power:

To ensure your safety during the cleaning process, turn your power off at the shutoff box (usually outside within sight of your outdoor unit). If you do not have an outdoor shutoff box, turn off the power at the circuit breaker (usually located at the main panel that controls the outdoor unit).

  1. Clear Debris and Overgrowth Around the Unit:

Cut back any overgrown branches or vegetation at least 2 feet around the unit and rake away any dead leaves or debris from the surrounding area.

*Pro Tip: During winter time, cover the unit with a piece of plastic or plywood, leaving the sides unobstructed to avoid moisture buildup and corrosion.

  1. Clear the Unit of Debris Buildup:

Remove the fan cage from the unit, using a screw driver to remove the fasteners. Lift the fan grill/cage from the top of the condenser/compressor. Clean away dirt, leaves, grass and other debris by hand or with a wet/dry vacuum.

  1. Clean the Fins:

Vacuum the condenser fins with a soft-bristle brush attachment. You can also blast out the dirt by spraying through the fins from inside with a strong stream from your garden hose.

*Caution: Never use a pressure washer because the fins are delicate, and this may damage them.

  1. Straighten the Fins:

Gently straighten bent fins using a regular knife. This will help improve your unit’s efficiency since bent fins reduce air-flow.

  1. Clean the Evaporator Coil on Your Inside Blower/Furnace:

Open the evaporator coil door. Dust off the coil with a soft brush and spray the coil with no-rinse coil cleaner. Since the foam from the cleaner will drip into the drain pan, use soap, water and bleach to clean the drain pan. Then, pour one cup of 50% bleach and 50% water down the drain. Close the evaporator coil door and seal it with duct tape if necessary.

*Caution: If the bleach solution does not drain easily, you will need to unclog the evaporator drain before moving on to the next step.


  1. Change the Filter:

Find the filter where the large fresh air return duct enters the unit. Use a screw driver to turn the latch and open the door to the filter. Remove the old filter and install the new one. Make sure you match the air-flow direction arrows on the filter to the arrows on the unit. Close and latch the door. Turn your power back on.

*Pro Tip: Use FilterScan Wifi to determine when it’s time to change your filters. You can also hang a white sheet several inches away from one of your AC vents for an hour. Come back and examine the white sheet to see if it has turned gray or black. The more dirt on the sheet, the more likely it is that it’s time to change your filter.


  • Schedule a Yearly Preventative Maintenance Checkup:

Now that you know some tips to maintain your AC unit, you can do a lot on your own to increase your AC unit’s efficiency and lifespan, while decreasing your AC bill. Although these DIY maintenance tips will help, you should still schedule a yearly preventative maintenance checkup. To get ahead of the oncoming warm weather, contact the experts at Action Air for any of your maintenance or repair needs.