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.
Fin combs are available for most common air conditioners.
Photo 2: Clean out the crud
Suck up all the spider webs, leaves, dust and dirt before you spray the coils.
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.
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 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!
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
- Shop vacuum
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