Tips for Cleaning Your AC System

September 20, 2019

With summer winding down in Cedar Rapids, now is an ideal time to get a kick start on air conditioner maintenance.

If you haven’t taken care of it lately, it could be full of mud and yard waste. This accumulation can reduce your unit’s efficiency and cause it to malfunction. Or make it wear out more quickly.

We suggest having your air conditioning system professionally tuned-up every year. Why? Clean equipment can be more energy efficient, which could save you money on energy expenses.

Regular AC maintenance also helps our technicians spot and address small issues before they develop into costly problems.

Related: How to Keep Your Air Conditioner from Failing

Some of the work we do includes:

  • Taking a look at the blower, motor, drain line and coils
  • Watching pressure and temperature
  • Reviewing lines, refrigerant totals and connections

There’s still time to have maintenance done this fall—and we can get your furnace prepped for heating season too.

Schedule maintenance now


There’s also some upkeep you can do on your own between professional tune-ups. You just need about an hour to wash your outdoor condenser unit, as well as a couple of parts on your indoor HVAC system.

Related: How Often Should You Expect to Get Air Conditioning Service Done?

How to Clean Your Outside AC Unit

Pick a mild day to scrub your air conditioner. At least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) is ideal. That way, you can test the unit once you’ve cleaned it.

You’ll only need a few things:

  • Wet-dry vacuum and hose with a soft brush attachment
  • Screwdriver
  • Butter knife
  • Damp rag
  • Small, round paintbrush
  • Replacement furnace filter (if necessary)

Related: How AC Repair and Maintenance Can Actually Save You Money

5 Steps to Clean the Outside Unit

1. Turn Off the Power

Switch off the juice to your air conditioner at the breaker box.

2. Clean the Outside

Empty debris from the equipment. This includes branches, bushes, weeds and grass.

Then turn on the vacuum to slowly clean the metallic fins. These pieces are also called as condenser coils and move heat away from your equipment.

You need to be cautious with these fine coils. Misshapen or crushed fins can affect efficiency.

3. Fix Bent Fins

Use a butter knife to adjust bent fins. You can also get a fin comb from an appliance parts retailer. A pro from Ilten's Incorporated should fix large amounts of damage.

4. Clean the Inside

After taking out the fan, dig out leaves and other yard waste. Then mop the inside of the equipment with a wet rag.

The only coil cleaner you have to have is water. Use gentle pressure from a hose nozzle to clean the fins, showering water from the inside out. Replace the fan once you’re done.

5. Test Your Air Conditioner

You can now restore power and turn your air conditioner back on. If it’s not running properly, contact us a call at 319-208-3295.

Related: Air Conditioner Service: Pay a Little Now, Save Later

3 Steps to Clean the Indoor Unit

1. Turn Off the Power

Turn off the electricity to your furnace at the breaker box.

2. Check Your Filter

Furnace filters must be changed every couple of months, depending on the type you use.

Not sure when you last replaced yours? Remove it and angle it toward the light. If light isn’t visible, buy a new one.

3. Clean the Inside

Remove the blower door and vacuum up dust.

Then take a look at your air conditioner’s drain line—it’s a flexible plastic tube. If it’s scummy, you can freshen it by draining thinned bleach through the tube to sanitize the line. Or you can replace the tube.

Wash the drain port using a small, round paintbrush. Hook up the drain tube and restore power.

Related: How to Keep Your Air Conditioner Running Well Through Fall

Never Forget a Tune-Up Again

Annual air conditioner maintenance from Ilten's Incorporated can make your equipment more efficient and help it last longer. We also provide handy service agreements, so you won’t forget to schedule your routine tune-up!