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Here’s what you should be doing to keep your air conditioner running efficiently
cleaning ac

I don’t usually pay much attention to my air conditioner. I switch it on in the summer when I need it, and I forget about during fall, winter and spring.

But it turns out, I’m doing it wrong.

After a long, hot summer spent keeping me comfortable, my air conditioner deserves a little extra attention.

These are the steps I’m going to start taking at the end of every summer season to make sure my central air conditioner continues keeping me cool when I need it, and running efficiently for years to come.

Step 1: Turn off the air conditioner

Before you begin cleaning your air conditioner, be sure to turn off the unit. The power switch is usually located in a small box close to the unit.

Step 2: Remove large pieces of debris

Get rid of branches and leaves that have collected on and around your air conditioner. Debris can clog airflow and prevent your machine from running efficiently.

Step 3: Spray and wipe down your air conditioner

Once the big stuff is gone, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. Use a hose to spray down your air conditioner, making sure to get rid of bugs and dirt that accumulate throughout the summer.

Unscrew the fan grill, or top part of the unit, and use a garden hose or shop vacuum to remove debris and dust around the motor of the air conditioner.

Before reattaching the fan grill, wipe out and clean the fan blades with a soft cloth. You can use a ‘condenser fin whisk brush’ to scrub down the hard-to-reach areas.

I know this step seems tedious, but the extra TLC will help prevent moisture, which could lead to corrosion, from accumulating in your air conditioner.

Step 4: Give your air conditioner some room

Make sure there isn’t anything blocking the flow of air in or out of your air conditioner. Remove overgrown grass, shrubs or other debris.

Step 5: Cover your air conditioner

A quick google search will prove that the decision to cover your air conditioner is a polarizing one. But I’m always looking for an easy way to do things, and it seems covering your unit during the fall season can save you effort in the long run.

Your air conditioner is built to withstand weather conditions like rain and snow, but it isn’t designed to keep out debris. Leaves, branches and dirt can find their way inside your unit and accumulate moisture, which leads to corrosion and expensive repairs.

You can purchase covers from most hardware or home improvement stores, but be sure you opt for one that only covers the top portion of your air conditioner. If you cover your unit completely, you could trap in the moisture you’re working to avoid. A cover that hangs no lower than six inches is your best option.

Take off the cover near the end of the fall season, when most of the leaves have fallen from the trees.

Step 6: Keep Black Hills Energy in mind

Surely these steps will help prolong the life and efficiency of your air conditioner, but when you’re ready for an upgrade, keep Black Hills Energy in mind. Their energy efficiency experts can make sure you’re buying the right air conditioner for your space. And if you qualify, they can help you get a rebate on your new purchase.

Now that’s cool.