Air conditioners are costly and require regular maintenance. Over time, debris or dirt can accumulate on the coils, restricting airflow to the unit and causing it to overheat. If this continues, issues like mold and mildew build-up can also form. If your AC looks dirty, is it safe to use a power washer to clean the inside or outside? Unfortunately, professionals advise against it. Read on to learn more about what happens when you power wash your AC.
What Is the Problem With Power Washing an AC?
Most HVAC technicians recommend that you should never power wash or pressure clean your AC unit in order to prevent any issues caused by debris being kicked up during the process and sprayed over the system. The power of the AC jets can bend fins and coils and breach seals. Each of these comes with their own damaging effects.
The Effects of Power Washing an AC Unit
In some cases, the damage caused by power washing your unit can be costly to fix. For example, if the unit is flooded with water, it can cause issues with mold and mildew growth and possible structural damage. When this happens, you may need to replace damaged components in the system and other areas.
If the cold air or hot air from a system gets mixed and enters the ducts, that can also cause heating or cooling issues inside your home. Below are examples of the many effects power washing your main HVAC system can have:
1. Adds Debris to Your Coils
Dirt and debris can ricochet from the ground into your AC unit. The powerful jet of water from a pressure washer can push dirt deeper into the system instead of washing it away from the machine.
2. Destroys Seals
Seals keep refrigerant safely inside your AC. A pressure washer can rupture these seals causing the refrigerant to pollute the air and your AC to lose efficiency. If you have a broken seal, this must be handled by a professional due to the nature of refrigerants.
3. Bends Fins, Blades and Coils
Air conditioners work by using a condenser on a refrigerant compound. When you compress this material, it creates a chemical reaction that makes it very cold. This is furthered by the evaporation process on the fins. A fan then blows across the cool coils and into your ductwork. This is how your home gets air-conditioned.
Cleaning can bend components of your air conditioner. If the fins bend, it can create a system that doesn’t cool as efficiently as it used to. Big gaps can open the system up to more debris. If the coils bend, it can lead to cracks and leaking refrigerant. Bent fan blades can hit the unit as they spin. At best, this can create a loud, inefficient fan. At its worst, this can block or prematurely wear down the fan motor.
Better Tips for Air Conditioner Maintenance
It’s likely that your air conditioning is an integral part of your daily life. It’s nice to turn it on and feel a little bit more comfortable, especially when the temperature outside is on the high end.
It can be quite an investment if you’ve had an air conditioner in your home for an extended period. Your conditioning unit will start to break down if not taken care of. The following are some of the tips to consider when it comes to cleaning your air conditioning unit.
1. Schedule Your Annual Tune-Up
You will not always be aware that your unit is not running as well as it used to. If you clean it regularly, though, you should be able to avoid many issues. A provider or professional can look at the unit, and if it is showing signs of wear, they can adjust your settings and ensure that things are as efficient as possible.
2. Change the Air Filter
The most common issue with air conditioning units is that they do not have an excellent clean air filter. If you find that the unit is not cooling your home as effectively, it might be time to change the air filter. If you have a reusable air filter, then you can wash and vacuum the filter before returning it.
3. Clean the Return Air Ducts
The return air ducts are constantly sucking up dust and other things, but most people often overlook them. If your unit is not cooling as well as it should be, you might want to do a bit of cleaning. It will ensure that your unit is running at its best and that it’s not sucking in dirty or stagnant air when it should be getting new fresh air. Professional HVAC technicians can check the inside of your ducts with a camera and let you know how dirty they are and recommend whether cleaning should be done. They can also check your ductwork for efficiency-killing leaks at the same time.
4. Hand Wash the Outside Compressor
Once you have had the inside of the unit cleaned, it’s time to have the outside cleaned too. You will want to ensure that the outside is free of bugs, bird poop, and other insects that could cause damage. Otherwise, it’s essential to make sure that you clean it regularly, so you don’t end up with any build-up or rusting over time.
You can clean this unit rather effectively with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge. Just clean the items that are entirely outside these ways. If rain can land on it, then it’s probably safe to use soapy water. If you are uncertain, then speak with your HVAC technician during your annual tune-up to see how and where to do a cleaning.
5. Keep the Area Surrounding the AC Clear
Yard and garden maintenance are a crucial part of the air conditioning maintenance process. First, make sure that there are no trees, bushes or yard items that are blocking airflow into your outdoor air conditioning unit. Look up and see if there are overhanging trees that tend to drop leaves or needles onto or into your unit. If so, it’s worthwhile to trim them back. Keep an area of at least 2 or 3 feet clear all the way around the unit if you can. Regular weed-whacking is a good maintenance plan, but others may choose to hardscape the area surrounding their outdoor unit in order to make it easier to keep the air conditioner free from vegetation without the need for this maintenance.
While you don’t need to spend much money on an air conditioner, you want to ensure it is well maintained. By keeping your unit clean and running correctly, you will be able to enjoy a more relaxed home for the entirety of the year. In Raleigh, NC, you can rely on the services of Thermo Direct. We have been serving the community of The Triangle and the surrounding areas since 2000, and our NATE-certified technicians offer the highest quality and reliable electrical, heating and air conditioning services. Contact Thermo Direct today to learn more about our services and how we can help you save money on your electrical and HVAC bills.