Air conditioner units rely on filtering the outdoor air. They must be cleaned regularly — at least once a year — to ensure that the air flows freely. Air conditioners tend to collect residue from rainwater and snow, dust, pollen, leaves, grass clippings, airborne seeds, and other outdoor contaminants. You know your AC unit needs to be cleaned regularly, so why not do it yourself?

One step you can confidently take to help keep your air conditioner in good working order is to trim back or remove any plants that grow too close to it. When planning your landscaping, leave a 2-foot area around all sides of the AC unit with no plants in this space. Good airflow in and out of the unit is critical for it to function properly, so you have to remove any potential obstructions that could keep air from flowing in and out freely.

You can feel confident using a garden hose to rinse off the exterior of your AC unit, as long as you don’t get any water on the motor. Make sure you power your unit down first to avoid any potential electrical problems. A typical garden hose doesn’t use nearly enough water to damage the unit. However, a garden hose won’t be effective in cleaning debris off the interior coils of the unit.

For a deeper cleaning, you may be wondering if it is acceptable to use a pressure washer, also known as a power washer. Power washers are great for deep cleaning on a variety of tough surfaces like concrete and brick, but an AC unit is another story. Cleaning an air conditioning unit with a power washer is generally a bad idea for the following reasons.

1. You Could Damage Fins

The delicate fins on the interior of your AC are made of a soft metal such as aluminum or copper that can’t withstand the pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure put out by a power washer. You can easily damage them, and they’re relatively expensive to replace.

2. Bent or Crushed Fins Can Restrict Airflow

Power washing your AC unit can actually cause the effect you’re trying to prevent. If you bend or crush one or more of the fins out of shape, it can become a physical obstruction that blocks proper airflow into or out of your unit.

While inspecting your air conditioner, if you notice that any of the fins seem bent and you’re unable to straighten them back into shape by yourself, call a maintenance technician. Obstructed airflow due to bent coils or fins will keep your unit from working properly.

3. You May Accidentally Remove the Coating

Depending on the air conditioner model, your AC may or may not contain specially coated coils. The owner’s manual that came with your air conditioner will let you know what to use — and what not to use — when cleaning these coils. Certain cleaning substances or the excessive pressure of the power washer may remove the coating, keeping the air conditioner from working in the way it was intended to.

4. Power Washing Could Put Your Safety at Risk

Keep your safety in mind when scheduling maintenance for your outdoor air conditioner. Using a pressure washer exposes you to a variety of hazards. These include electrical hazards if you fail to disengage the electricity to your unit, debris flying at you and potentially landing in your eyes if you forget to put on eye protection, and the chance of lacerating fingers and other exposed skin that exists when working with sheet metal. If you’d rather not risk injury, it’s best to leave the AC maintenance to a professional air conditioning technician.

Contact Northwest HVAC Heating & Cooling

Even a small power washer can damage an air conditioner. When cleaning an AC unit, it’s important to know what you’re doing. Using the right amount of pressure to wash the delicate components will help keep it functioning at peak efficiency without the expense of having to replace damaged parts.

Keep your air conditioner in good working order with regular inspection and maintenance. Let an experienced professional with the right tools, knowledge, and training take care of all your maintenance worries. When you need professional AC cleaning and service in Vancouver, WA, Northwest HVAC Heating & Cooling can help. We offer AC and heating maintenance, as well as repair and installation services. Our team is also your source for indoor air quality solutions. Reach out to us today to set up an appointment.

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