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Photo 1: Comb out the mats
Match the correct end of the fin comb to the fin spacing on your
coils. Then insert the comb and pull up to straighten the fins.
Wear leather gloves to prevent nasty cuts.
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Fin combs are available for most common air conditioners.
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Photo 2: Clean out the crud
Suck up all the spider webs, leaves, dust and dirt before you spray
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Photo 3: Apply a foam cleaner
Shoot the spray over the entire surface of both coils and let the
foam do the work for you. If the buildup is heavy, brush in the
direction of the fins with a nylon-bristle brush.
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Photo 4: Service the fan motor
Pop off the plastic or rubber caps on the motor's oiling ports. Then
squeeze a few drops into each port and recap.
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
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!