A window AC unit requires regular cleaning in order to prevent formation of mold and otherwise ensure that you are breathing the cleanest air possible. There are other benefits as well. A clean window unit is more efficient and thus costs less to run. Cleaning it will make it less prone to breaking down and also extend the useful life of the equipment. With that in mind, let’s discuss the necessary steps.
How Often to Clean and Consulting the Manual
There are many different window AC unit brands and models. If this is the first time you are cleaning yours, check the owner’s manual to determine any special cleaning requirements. As for how often, window AC units should be cleaned at least once a year, but it depends on use. If a window AC unit experiences high usage throughout the year, then biannually or even quarterly may be appropriate.
To Remove or Not to Remove
Generally, it is perfectly fine to clean your window AC unit while it’s secure in the window. The exception is if you plan to store the unit for winter or some other extended period. In that case, it’s better to first remove the unit and then clean it. Note that storing your window AC unit for winter or any extended period of inactivity is recommended to prevent mold and extend equipment life span.
What You’ll Need
- Spray bottle
- Warm water
- Mild dish soap
- Reusable cloths
- Protective gloves
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Wet-dry vacuum (optional)
- Fin comb or soft-bristled brush
- Compressed air or electric air duster
Unplug Your Unit
If your unit is in use, turn it off, and wait for it to come to a complete stop. Next, unplug the unit from the electrical outlet. If you are removing your AC unit from the window in order to store it, you’ll want to go ahead and do that now.
Clean the Filter
The filter is one aspect of your window AC unit that you should clean every month that the unit is not in storage. In most designs, you can simply slide the filter out of the unit, but you may need to press a button or hold in clip tabs. If the filter is notably dusty, then the first step is to vacuum with the wet vac if you have one or a handheld vacuum or a traditional household vacuum with a brush attachment. Next, hand-wash it with warm water and mild dish soap in a bucket or sink. Hand-dry it, and then, let the filter sit out to air dry. Do not replace it until it is completely dry because a damp filter can lead to mildew. Filters also need to be replaced at least once a year or sooner depending on usage.
Empty and Clean the Drip Tray
Position an empty bucket beneath the drip area. If the drip area is wide, you made need additional buckets and either towels or old newspaper to avoid any spillage. With the filter still out, remove the drip tray. If there is moisture inside, empty it in a safe manner. Use warm water and mild soap to clean the tray. Hand-dry it. Fill the water bottle with hydrogen peroxide. Spray the entire interior of the drip tray and leave it out to air dry.
Detach the Grille and Clean It
Unscrew any screws that are holding the grille in place. Depending on your brand and model, you may need a flathead, Philips or other style screwdriver. Put the screws in a safe place. Often, the grille is integrated with the control panel, so you’ll also need to detach the electrical connection, which is often as simple as detaching a ribbon cable from a connector. Once detached, use soapy warm water to clean the grille and pay particular attention the to the gaps where the air comes through, and be careful of any electrical wires as you work.
You should also check the AC drain to ensure that it isn’t clogged. If it is, light clogs can usually be dislodged with a wet-dry vacuum. If that does not do the trick, then you may need to call in a professional with specialized tools to unclog the drain.
Wipe Down the Exterior
Wipe down all of the exterior that is accessible and not part of the detached grille. If the exterior is relatively clean, warm water may be enough. But if you are dealing with stubborn grime, you can use the soapy water or even your favorite household cleaner as long as it is appropriate for plastic. Pay particular attention to any crevices where dust is likely to accumulate.
Clean the Interior
At least once a year and every six months if you use the unit a lot, you’ll want to clean the interior, which is primarily made up of aluminum fins. If you are not already using your protective gloves, do so now as the fins are sharp and can cut you. You should also be careful as the fins can bend easily, and if you notice any bent fins, bend them gently back into place. To clean them, use the compressed air or electric duster, and take you time to ensure that you get all of the debris. Your meticulousness during this step will definitely pay dividends in terms of air quality.
Reassemble and Spritz to Prevent Mildew
Wait for everything to be completely dry. Once it is, install the grille and secure it with the screws. Replace the drip tray and then the air filter. Once everything is secure, use the spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide in all of the areas where air comes through.
Cleaning a Window AC Unit With Mold
Cleaning a window AC unit that has mildew or even mold is similar to as discussed above, except that you will want to do one pass with bleach and then a second with soap water and hydrogen peroxide. The mixture to use is several gallons of hot water and a half cup of household bleach. Avoid a stronger solution as bleach is caustic to the internals of your unit.
Your Local AC Experts in Wichita
Fahnestock Plumbing, Heating, and Electric has served the Greater Wichita area for more than 70 years, and we offer both residential and commercial plumbing, HVAC and electric services. If you have a window AC unit that needs cleaning, we can dispatch an expert technician to clean it, inspect it and give it a tune-up. Our company installs, services and repairs all manner of heating and cooling equipment. Our plumbers handle everything from clogged drains to main sewer line replacement, and our electricians perform upgrades and new installations and are available for safety inspections and home energy audits. Call Fahnestock today or contact us online to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment.