Understanding Why Pressure Washing Is Not The Best Choice To Clean Your AC Condenser

If you have a central air conditioning unit that cools your house, then you will need to perform maintenance tasks to make sure the system functions as well as it should. Cleaning is an important part of the maintenance required to keep the condenser in great shape. However, you can make some cleaning mistakes that actually cause damage. Keep reading to learn how pressure washing can be a mistake and how you can avoid damaging your condenser unit while trying to keep it clean. 

Problems With Using A Pressure Washer To Clean

Pressure washers can come in handy when it comes to cleaning the dirt and debris that sticks to the side of your home or garage. However, it is not a good idea to use the washer when cleaning your AC condenser. Even light-duty washers will release about 1,000 to 2,000 pounds per square inch of water pressure. In contrast, a regular garden hose will only release 40 to 60 pounds of pressure in most cases.

If large amounts of pressure are used to clean an AC condenser, water can be forced into the seals that line the compressor pump, fan motor, and the coolant regulator valve. Also, the water pressure can cause fluid to accumulate around the wires that attach to the fan. This can cause a short and lead to a fire. 

If you release too much water pressure against the fins of the AC unit, then you may also notice the fins starting to bend. Bent fins will not allow heat to release from the inside of the AC unit. The condenser will then heat up, and this will reduce its overall ability to cool your home. Fins that bend are also susceptible to rust.

Gentle Cleaning

Rinsing With Water

To reduce damage concerns, skip the pressure washer and use your regular hose to spray the unit clean. You should do this from the inside of the unit out to release debris dislodged in the condenser fins. To access the inside of the AC unit, use a screwdriver to remove the screws from the top cover. Remove the cover and also pull out the fan. Look inside the unit to see if your AC system contains coolant coils that are attached directly to the aluminum fins. If so, locate the nearby compressor pump and regulator valve. You will want to avoid spraying these parts with water so that water does not accidentally work its way inside of them.

Make sure your hose head is set on wide or shower spray to minimize water pressure, and gently spray the hose through the aluminium condenser fins. Use a cloth to gently wipe debris away from the outside of the fins.

Using A Detergent

Inspect the fins after the initial rinse to see if debris remains. Water may not be enough to remove dirt, so you may have to use a cleaner to release debris. You will need to choose the cleaner wisely, though. Strong cleaners like ammonia, bleach, and other types of basic products should be avoided. These things will cause pitting and corrosion across the aluminum, and they may create stains as well. White vinegar can be used safely to clear the debris from the fins. 

Place about one cup of white vinegar in a water bottle with about one cup of water. Use the solution to spray down the evaporator fins. Allow the cleaner to sit for five minutes and then use a cloth to wipe the vinegar and the debris away. If you notice that some dirt is stuck in between the fins, then purchase a fin brush. These brushes are made with either nylon bristles or foam fingers that reach between the fins to release dirt. 

For more advice, contact a company that services and repairs air conditioners, such as Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc.