tools for an air conditioner service

Tips for Cleaning Your AC System

With summer winding down in Greater Richmond, now is an ideal time to get a head start on air conditioner maintenance.

If you haven’t washed it lately, it could be clogged with dust and yard refuse. This collection can decrease your unit’s efficiency and cause it to malfunction. Or make it wear out more quickly.

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

Regular AC maintenance also helps our technicians discover and address slight issues before they develop into high-priced problems.

Related: How to Keep Your Air Conditioner from Failing

Some of the work we do involves:

  • Viewing the blower, motor, drain line and coils
  • Confirming pressure and temperature
  • Reviewing lines, refrigerant totals and connections

It’s not too late to have a tune-up done this fall—and we can get your furnace prepped for heating season too.

Schedule maintenance now


There’s also some work you can do by yourself between professional tune-ups. It only takes about an hour to get the grime off your outdoor condenser unit, as well as a couple of parts on your indoor HVAC system.

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

How to Clean Your Outside AC Unit

Select a temperate day to wash your air conditioner. At least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) is best. That way, you can test your equipment once you’ve cleaned it.

You’ll only need a few 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 waste from the system. This includes branches, bushes, weeds and grass.

Then run the vacuum to gently clean the metallic fins. These parts are also called as condenser coils and divert heat away from your system.

You need to be considerate of these delicate coils. Misshapen or crushed fins can impact efficiency.

3. Fix Bent Fins

Use a butter knife to rearrange bent fins. You can also use a fin comb from an appliance parts website. A pro from Herman Allen Plumbing, Heating & Cooling should handle large amounts of damage.

4. Clean the Inside

After removing the fan, dig out leaves and other yard waste. Then clean the inside of the equipment with a wet rag.

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

5. Test Your Air Conditioner

It’s safe to restore power and turn your air conditioner back on. If it’s not running properly, contact us a call at 804-302-6657.

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

3 Steps to Clean the Indoor Unit

1. Turn Off the Power

Stop the power to your furnace at the breaker box.

2. Check Your Filter

Furnace filters need to be replaced every few months, depending on the model you use.

Not sure when you last checked yours? Take it out and tilt it toward the light. If there’s no light visible, buy a new one.

3. Clean the Inside

Remove the blower door and vacuum up dust.

Then take a look at your air conditioner’s drain line—it’s a supple plastic tube. If it’s scummy, you can clean it by flowing water-down bleach through the tube to flush the line. Or you can get a new tube.

Wash the drain port using a small, round paintbrush. Reconnect the drain tube and restore power.

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

Never Forget a Tune-Up Again

Annual air conditioner maintenance from Herman Allen Plumbing, Heating & Cooling can make your system more efficient and help it last longer. We also provide handy service agreements, so you won’t forget to plan your routine service!

Back To Blog