February 2, 2005
Jack Frost is nipping at our nose and Santa Claus has just left. The eastern seaboard has just received their third blizzard for a total of over 125 cm (56 inches) of snow in one week. So, who in their right mind would be thinking about window air conditioners at this time of year?
Call me crazy, but I am.
It is a good time of year to start this project. Firstly, it keeps ones mind sharp for coming spring. Plus, it allows you to try out those new tools you got for Christmas. Mainly though, it is a good winter project because by time spring arrives you will be too busy to think about this job.
Very little is required to clean a window air conditioner, except lots of patience. If patience is something you lack then it is a job you should turn over to local appliance serviceman.
Tools ---------------------- ·Tin can or container (old muffin tin works well also) ·Vacuum cleaner ·Long handled brush (an old toilet brush works well) ·Oil can ·Rags ·De-greaser or spray detergent ·Selection of screwdrivers (Philips, Flat bladed, 1/4" socket head) ·Fin tool (optional) ·New filter (if disposable type)
Lets get started -----------
1. Start by removing filter from front grille. If it is hidden behind grille proceed to step 2. If it is a disposable filter simply replace it with a new one. Other types are made in a plastic frame and can be cleaned and reused. To clean a filter lay it flat in sink and sprinkle surface with powder laundry detergent. Then cover with about one inch of hot water. Just enough so filter is submerged. Soak for 15 minutes. Remove from water and rinse with warm water. Hang up to dry while proceeding to next step.
2. Next, remove front grille from main body of air conditioner. They usually pivot on two spring clips at bottom. It is usually removed by pulling grille gently forward while pushing it down at same time. If there is resistance then look for hidden screws. Look near top edge of grille or behind control knob door. Once removed place grille aside until later.
3. Carefully remove metal cover of air conditioner to expose inner workings. Once all screws are removed lift cover straight up. Do not let it hit other parts as it can have sharp edges. This is where old can comes in handy (ice cube container or muffin tin works well also). Use it to keep track of all screws you will be removing. An air conditioner will often use a number of different types and sizes of screws. Segregate them from each other or confusion will result when we start reassembly.
4. Check fan motor for any oil holes or oil plugs. If motor has oil plugs they are usually rubber. Use caution when removing because rubber may have become brittle. Often they will break off in oil holes resulting in a blockage. If this occurs try to remove broken plug by using a pin of tip of a small screwdriver. Once fan motor oil holes are exposed add a few drops of oil to each end of motor body. Use a general purpose (3in1) oil or clean motor oil. A #30 oil is sufficient. The natural tendency is to over-oil. Too much lubrication is as bad as not enough. Therefore only 3 or 4 drops on both ends of motor body is sufficient. Add oil slowly, pausing a few seconds between each drop. If you add it too quickly over-lubrication will result.
5. Use brush to remove surface dust and dirt from evaporator (front fins). Use an up and down motion. Do not go side to side or allow fins to be bent. The fins are very soft aluminum and can be damaged easily. Once surface dirt is removed, spray with de-greaser or cleaner. There is a good product on market called HVAC cleaner. As name implies it is meant for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioner coil cleaning. If this is not available Fantastic Spray cleaner used in kitchens and bathrooms works quite well. Let stand about 15 minutes or as per instructions on de-greaser can. This will allow cleaner to loosen any hidden dirt. Remove dirt and excess cleaner by slowly pouring warm water into fins. Do not allow water to enter any electrical connections or components that may be near coil. As an added precaution cover motor with one of cloth rags. to protect it from water. Do not use any form of high pressure air or water because this can drive dirt farther into fins. Also, use extreme caution as these coils are filled with high pressure refrigerant.