It is Spring time and if your air conditioner hasn’t been on already it will be soon. To make it run at it’s most efficient there is an incredibly simple air conditioner DIY maintenance step that anyone can do to keep your air conditioner running smoothly, keep your house nice and cool, and keep your electricity bills down.
To run efficiently, an air conditioner needs air. It needs to breath. If you look closely at your air conditioner you will see that it gets it’s air through vents all around the air conditioner. Keeping those vents clear so plenty of air gets through makes your air conditioner run more efficiently. Here is how to do it.
Photo by David Shellabarger
First, lets take a look at the vents. Do they look bent up like in the picture above? Sometimes the vents can get so bent up that they basically look closed and don’t do a good job of letting air through at all.
My vents looked like this a couple years ago so I bought a simple tool called either a fin straightener (affiliate link) or sometimes an air conditioner comb. It is simply a device with teeth at fixed intervals. You insert it into the bent parts of your vent and pull it down through the vent. This will bend the vents back to their original position so the air can flow. A professional heating and air guy will want to charge you $100 to $150 for this procedure, but it is super easy to do and the tool costs about $10. Below I have inserted an advertisement for the device I bought a couple years ago so you can see what I am talking about. This guy worked great for me:
Clean your vents
You may or may not have bent vents, but it is a virtual certainty that your vents are dirty and restricting air flow if you haven’t cleaned them in a while. Everybody should follow these steps once a year.
First I went and bought some air conditioner cleaner. You can buy WEB WCOIL Coil Cleaner (affiliate link) for as little as $5 on Amazon.
When I started, my vents looked like this. You may not be able to see this very well if you are on a mobile device, but that is one dirty air conditioner. The vents are so clogged up with dust you probably can’t even tell those are vents. You can scroll down the page for the after shot to see what it is supposed to look like for a comparison.
According to the directions on the can, step one is to take a garden hose and rinse the vents off real well. This cleaned away most of the dirt and it looked to me like the vents were clean enough to let all the air through. The picture below shows the clear vents after a rinse. That is quite a difference from the dirty vents above.
If I can give you a little peak behind the curtain of how I work, I had this whole article written in my head at this point. I was going to write about how all you need to do is give your old AC a quick shower and there is no need to spend the $5 on rip off air conditioner cleaner. I was going to take pictures before and after I used the cleaner and say “See, you don’t need this cleaner, save your $5 and do it for free”. I love writing articles about how to get stuff for free, so this made me happy. After I used the cleaner though, I changed my mind.
I followed the directions on the can, and sprayed my vents down with the cleaner. It was a very simple process, and the cleaner foamed up so that it expanded into all the areas I missed. I left for about ten minutes and was surprised by what I saw when I came back.
See all that gunk in between the bars? That is the dirt that didn’t get washed away when I rinsed the AC unit, but that was washed out when I used the foaming cleaner. I was so surprised by how much gunk there was that I changed my mind on the cleaner. It is only about $5 and I will wager that the increased efficiency in your air conditioner will be worth a lot more than the $5. So, I am now recommending that you spring for the $5 can of cleaner such as WEB WCOIL Coil Cleaner. (affiliate link)
Your air conditioner needs to breath well to work efficiently and can’t breath well it the vents are bent up or not clean. If your vents are bent, get yourself a fin straightener. If your vents are dirty (and they probably are) get yourself a can of air conditioner cleaner and follow the directions. A clean air conditioner will save you money in electricity bills.
Disclosure: Links to Amazon are affiliate links