Maintaining Your Air Conditioner

Category Cooling
Perform regular maintenance and cleaning on your air conditioner to ensure it is working when you need it. This is a page about maintaining your air conditioner.


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I know an air conditioning unit needs regular servicing. The cost if over $100 and I was wondering if I could maybe clean the filters myself?

By fieke engelen from Brisbane, AU


May 25, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Most filters can be cleaned in the tub or shower, or outside with the hose, and reused. You can also buy replacement filters.
An airconditioner annual service though is much more than just cleaning filters, or at least it should be. The person should inspect the units to make sure everything is working properly---check the coils and fins on the outside, etc.
If all you got for $100 was filters cleaned, then you need to report that person to your consumer protection agency.

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May 25, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I hose mine out regularly and save the 100 dollar service fee. I only call a technician if I actually have trouble. My filter is metal around the outside of the unit in the back yard.


I purchased reusable filters for the inside and they hose out also. I would say i have saved 700 dollars since I started this 7 years ago.

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May 29, 20090 found this helpful
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Take the filter and wash it in the kichen sink and let it dry out in the sun before re-installing IF it is made of material. OR brush off the lint excess lightly outside that is on the filter before reinstalling it, We have 5 indoor cats in a rather large home and I have been doing this very thing for years. I find it really saves on the cost of buying new filters so I only have to replace them with new once every 6 months.

Good luck and let us know what you end up doing.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

May 24, 2009

How do I maintain my new air conditioner? Do I need to flush the drain pan on my Trane air handlers?

By Irmgard A. Meyer from Port Isabel, TX



Maintaining Your Air Conditioner

Your post said it is a new air conditioner. Most new appliances include an instruction manual. Your instruction manual should include care and maintenance. If you did not receive a manual, contact the manufacturers of Trane and they will probably send you a free manual. (05/18/2009)

By Joy

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April 30, 2009

An air conditioner's filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.

Air Conditioner Filters

The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal air flow and reduce a system's efficiency significantly. With normal air flow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil's heat-absorbing capacity. Keeping the filter clean can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5%-15%.


For central air conditioners, filters are generally located somewhere along the return duct's length. Common filter locations are in walls, ceilings, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself. Room air conditioners have a filter mounted in the grill that faces into the room.

Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air conditioning system's filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house.

Air Conditioner Coils

The air conditioner's evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces air flow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary.


Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins.

You should minimize dirt and debris near the condenser unit. Your dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mower are all potential sources of dirt and debris. Cleaning the area around the coil, removing any debris, and trimming foliage back at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) allow for adequate air flow around the condenser.

Coil Fins

The aluminum fins on evaporator and condenser coils are easily bent and can block air flow through the coil. Air conditioning wholesalers sell a tool called a "fin comb" that will comb these fins back into nearly original condition.


Condensate Drains

Occasionally pass a stiff wire through the unit's drain channels. Clogged drain channels prevent a unit from reducing humidity, and the resulting excess moisture may discolor walls or carpet.

Window Seals for Room Air Conditioners

At the start of each cooling season, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes contact with the unit's metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.

Preparing for Winter

In the winter, either cover your room air conditioner or remove and store it. Covering the outdoor unit of a central air conditioner will protect the unit from winter weather and debris.

Source: US Department of Energy

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