If you want your hard-working window air conditioner to keep you cool, it is important to perform some regular maintenance on the unit. This will not only keep the machine running at peak performance, but it will save you money on electric bills and repairs.
- The filter is your friend: The A/C air filter keeps dust and debris out of your home. When the filter is dirty, your window unit runs harder and harder trying to draw air. Your efficiency goes down, your room isn’t as cool, and you end up breathing all the gunk that’s blown into the room. Most filters are on the front pane of the air conditioner and easy to remove. Carefully clean the filter with a solution made from equal parts warm water and white vinegar. Allow the filter to dry completely before reinstalling. Clean the filter once a month unless you have pet or allergies, then consider cleaning twice a month.
- Clean the condenser coils: Like the filter, the condenser coils attract dust and debris which increases energy consumption. Clean the coils at the beginning of every cooling season. Remove the air conditioner cabinet and clean the coils using compressed air or a soft-bristle brush and household cleaner. Be sure not to bend the aluminum coil fins. If you do, they can be straightened with a “fin comb” found online or at the hardware store.
- Don’t forget the water pan: The water pan at the bottom of the A/C unit can harbor mold and transmit musty odors into the home. When cleaning the coils, clean the pan with warm water mixed with vinegar or detergent.
- Check for critters: If you store your air conditioner in the garage, or keep it in uncovered in the window in the winter, it might become a home for birds, bees, or rodents. Mice and rats can chew on wiring, leading to expensive repairs. Bird or wasp nests can clog coils and get sucked into fans. For these reasons, store your air conditioner in the attic or basement rather than the garage. And never leave the unit in the window uncovered in the winter. This can cause drafts and drive up your heating bills.