• Share:
How to Clean a Room Air Conditioner

Air conditioners work more efficiently when the evaporator and condenser coils or cooling fins are clean and the fins are straight. Save money and keep your house cooler by doing the job yourself.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Cleaning procedure

Most people assume warm air from their A/C unit means it’s low on refrigerant. That’s not always the cause. Many times, window and through-the-wall A/C units can’t blow cold air because the evaporator and condenser coils or cooling fins are clogged. Professional cleaning costs over $100. But you can do the entire job yourself in about an hour with a few dollars in supplies. If cleaning doesn’t do the trick, you can always call in a pro (or buy a newer, more efficient unit). Here’s how to clean your A/C unit.

First remove the plastic filter holder/trim panel. It usually snaps off. Then remove it from the window or slide it out of the wall (get help—it’s heavy).

If you’re working on a window unit, remove the mounting frame and the case. The case screws are usually located along the bottom edge. Note the location of any odd-length screws since they have to go back in the same spots upon reassembly.

Then straighten the bent cooling fins with a fin comb (Photo 1). The Frigidaire fin comb kit shown here is cheap and fits most brands of air conditioners.

Buy two cans of A/C coil cleaner (one brand is AC-Safe No. AC-920 from homedepot.com). Vacuum all visible buildup from both coils (Photo 2). Then spray both coils with the cleaner (Photo 3). While the foam works, clean the fan blades with household cleaner and a rag. If the fan motor has plastic- or rubber-capped oiling ports, pop them and squeeze in a few drops of electric motor oil (pros use the Zoomspout oiler from zoomspoutoiler.com).

Wash (or replace) the air filter and reinstall the unit. It just might blow a lot cooler. If not, you have other problems!

Back to Top

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Rags
    • Shop vacuum

You'll also need a fin comb and leather gloves.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • A/C coil cleaner
    • Electric motor oil
    • Household cleaner

Comments from DIY Community Members

No comments on the article have been posted yet. Be the first to add your comment!

You will be required to log in or create an account to post a comment.

closeX

Add Your Comment

How to Clean a Room Air Conditioner

Please add your comment
closeX

Log in to My Account

Log in to enjoy membership benefits from The Family Handyman.

  • Forgot your password?
Don’t have an account yet?

Sign up today for FREE and become part of The Family Handyman community of DIYers.

Member benefits:

  • Get a FREE Traditional Bookcase Project Plan
  • Sign up for FREE DIY newsletters
  • Save projects to your project binder
  • Ask and answer questions in our DIY Forums
  • Share comments on DIY Projects and more!
Join Us Today
closeX

Report Abuse

Subject
Reasons for reporting post

Free OnSite Newsletter

Get timely DIY projects for your home and yard, plus a dream project for your wish list!

Follow Us