Service air conditioners yourself can save money, especially during hard times. I did it recently and I want to share with you how to service the air conditioner yourself.
After paying professionals (service providers) to service my air conditioner for so many years. I realized that I actually can do it myself.
A professional air conditioner service (full chemical service) can cost anywhere between RM100 to RM150 for one unit of 1.0HP or 1.5HP wall-mounted air conditioner in Malaysia (yes, both are the same price because of the same physical dimension).
For comparison, I can buy myself almost a week of food with RM150.
It took me about an hour to clean the fan blower, cooling fins and filters including preparation and clean up afterward. To be honest, it is quite tiring especially when you are doing it alone. If you have one person to help you, it'll be much easier (the most tiring part is climbing up and down the ladder).
However, it is a good investment of my time and energy if you think about it, especially when you know nothing about it and thus, outside people may con you into paying more for unnecessary top-ups.
How to Service Air Conditioner Yourself?
Service the air conditioner is not hard at all and you can do it yourself too. Below I breakdown into 7 steps on how I service my 1.5HP wall-mounted air conditioner indoor unit:
Step 1: Prepare Water Sprayer, Plastic Bag and Tools
- Water Sprayer – Must be able to spray pressurized water.
- I recommend filling it up with only 70% of water. A full bottle will be heavy and tiring.
- Plastic Bag – To capture dirty water. About 70cm or more in width. The one I used is a 75cm x 75cm plastic bag for the dustbin one.
- You can use other forms of plastic bags or two smaller plastic bags.
- Ladder – Must be able to reach the top of the air conditioner.
- Wall-mounted air conditioners are usually measured at around 2,400mm to 2,800mm from the floor to the top of the air conditioner.
- A standard 6-step ladder can reach a maximum height of around 2,800mm. My 5-step ladder is pushing the boundary.
- Screwdriver – Suitable size. Mostly is the plus type.
- I recommend you use a bigger screwdriver than mine to be able to apply more force when needed. I didn't screw my air conditioner too hard previously, so a small one will do for me.
- AC Switch Off – Cut off the power to the air conditioner for safety purposes.
Step 2: Remove the Cover of the Air Conditioner
- Pull the removable section with your both hand.
- Don't afraid to pull harder. Sometimes, they are a little hard to open.
- Caution: Make sure your ladder is standing securely. Once you opened the cover, you will experience a backward force.
- Remove the filters.
- Unscrew the mounting screws. My air conditioner only has two screws in the front.
- The screws are not hiding anywhere. They should be easily visible.
- Look inside the swing of the air conditioner. You can move the swing up and down with your hand but be gentle.
- No need to open electrical box screw and cover.
- Unplug all the clips on the top of the air conditioner.
- Hold onto the air conditioner slightly to support yourself when doing this. It won't fall down so easily.
- Remove the cover of the air conditioner.
- Pull from the top is usually easier to remove.
- Don't afraid to pull harder. Sometimes, it is a little hard to remove.
- If one side can't pull, check if any screws are not yet unscrewed.
Step 3: Secure the Plastic Bag to Capture Water
- Lift the air conditioner to unplug the clips at the bottom of the air conditioner. My air conditioner has two clips.
- Lifting the air conditioner is not difficult, just need to use some strength.
- Don't worry about the pipes. A bit of lifting won't damage the pipes and wires.
- Put the plastic bag inside the clip and press the air conditioner to secure the clip and the plastic bag.
- Put more of the plastic bag into the clips so won't drop easily.
- Pull the plastic bag a little bit to test if it is secure.
- About a bottle of water will be collected by the plastic bag so it adds some weight to it.
- Pull the plastic bag to the swing of the air conditioner.
- You can use cellophane tape to secure it too.
- The plastic bag is ready to collect some dirty water.
Step 4: Clean the Fan Blower and Cooling Fins
- Spray water on the fan blower to clean the dust.
- Use your finger or a long tool to spin the blower so all dust can be cleaned.
- The fan blower is usually made of plastic and it is not sharp at all. However, do visually check your fan blower first just to be sure.
- Keep spraying water until all dust is cleaned.
- I used two bottles of water to clean my fan blower because mine was very dirty.
- This takes the longest time to do.
- The swing of the air conditioner may block your vision. Check under the swing.
- Spray water on the cooling fins. Don't worry as it won't damage the fins. Don't forget the top part of the cooling fins.
- Be careful when touching the fins, they are sharp and may cut your finger.
- You can use a toothbrush to brush the fins. But, be gentle and move your brush in parallel with the fins so that you don't bend the fins.
- The electrical box section is sealed tight so don't worry. But, don't spray water on it.
- Remove the plastic bag and wash away the dirty water.
- Let the clips at the bottom of the air conditioner stay unplugged for the next step.
Step 5: Clean the Drain Pipe
- Make sure the clips are unplugged so the air conditioner can be lifted.
- Slightly lift the air conditioner when you pulling out the drain pipe will make it much easier to do.
- Locate the drain pipe and pull it off.
- Some drain water will come out.
- Put a towel on the floor to catch the drain water.
- Clean the jelly/slimes using your finger or a tool. Just a touch and the jelly/slimes will fall out from the pipe.
- Plug the drain pipe back to the air conditioner and secure the clips at the bottom of the air conditioner.
Step 6: Clean the Air Filters
- Wash off the dust on the filter.
- Push the dust from the back of the filter will be much faster.
Final Step: Put Back Everything
- Put back the cover and the filter. Don't forget to plug back all the clips.
- Don't worry about the wet filters and fan blower, the air conditioner will dry them up very quickly.
- Switch on the air conditioner.
How Clean It Is Service Air Conditioner Myself?
I decided to service my air conditioner because I was having the so-called “big-small airflow” problem where the airflow was sometimes big, sometimes small and it is audible (easily noticeable). Such a symptom indicates that the fan blower is dirty. In addition, I felt my air conditioner less cold already.
I can clearly see that the thick dust around the blower blades is washed away. However, some dust is still stuck on the fan blade. Furthermore, I felt my air conditioner is back to the normal coldness and airflow after the service.
The cooling fins of my air conditioner weren't as dirty as the fan blower. Thus, the little dust on the fins is washed away easily. If your cooling fins are full of dust for a long time, the dust will be stuck on the fins. This is why the chemical is used to dissolve those crystallized dust in order to wash them away during a professional full chemical service.
Nevertheless, the fan blower of my air conditioner is still relatively dirty. Because the fan blower was dusty for quite some time, dust stuck hard on the fan blade and can't be washed away by simple water spray. I may have to call for a professional service sometime later.
Curious about: Does Air Conditioner Reduce Dust in Your House?
Things to Know Before Service Air Conditioner Yourself
Apart from the procedures, a few more things you should know about before servicing the air conditioner yourself:
- Need some strength and stamina – Lifting the air conditioner to unplug the bottom clips is the heaviest task of all. For females, I suggest you get a person to help you. Besides, spraying water bit by bit required stamina to maintain. However, you can just do it slowly and still able to finish it.
- It'll be messy – Expect dirty water to splash on your hand and even on your face. The wall and floor will be covered with some dirty water. However, it is manageable with a towel or two.
- The plastic cover may be heavier than you think – The cover of the air conditioner is one huge piece of plastic with decent thickness. I could carry it on my own, just got a little surprised by its weight.
- The air conditioner is tougher than you think – Some people may afraid if they use some force, they'll break the air conditioner. I don't think you can break it that easily. I pushed and pulled my air conditioner multiple times with decent force but it doesn't seem to care.
- Expect an arm ache the next day – The water spraying work engaged decent amount of arm muscles. Normal people most likely will have an arm or leg ache after servicing the air conditioner. Maybe it is just me, then I need to go to the gym more often. However, it is just a normal muscle fatigue and it'll recover after a day or two.
Learn about: Why Air Conditioners are Placed at a Height?
How Often You Should Service Your Air Conditioner?
I don't have a solid answer because it really depends on the operating condition of your air conditioner. Obviously, if you bring more dust to your house, you'll need to service the air conditioner more frequently.
In addition, if you're living in a dusty area, you'll also need to do it more.
However, I would say on average, service your air conditioner once every 2 months is the best to retain the performance of the air conditioner. Call for a professional for an overhaul service when there is too much crystallized dust that you can't wash away by yourself.
Usually, the outdoor unit is not as dirty as the indoor unit. Visually check the outdoor unit to see if it is dusty. If so, more often it is better to call for a professional to service it.
In case you can't see if the outdoor unit is dirty or not, pay attention to the coldness of your air conditioner after your service. If it is still not as cold as before, the outdoor unit is probably dirty.
Curious about: Is Air Conditioner Exhaust Harmful? The Outdoor Unit
Service your air conditioner frequently helps to shorten the amount of time and energy needed for each service because the dust will be washed away easily. If you left the dust collecting inside the air conditioner for too long, it'll be stuck and very hard to wash away later. Furthermore, a dusty air conditioner consumes more power.
When to Call for a Professional to Service Air Conditioner?
When you have too much crystallized dust, especially on the cooling fins, it is time to call for a professional service. In addition, if your air conditioner is not cold even after your service, it is recommended to get a professional to service your air conditioner as it might be some other issues such as insufficient refrigerant gas.
If you notice that your air conditioner indicating lamp is blinking, it means that something is wrong with your air conditioner and you may want to get a professional to service it. However, I would advise you to check the error code first. You can google search how to check error code using a remote controller for your air conditioner brand.
In case your air conditioner is leaking water, you may be able to fix it by yourself. Check out AC Leaking Water: Symptoms, Causes, Fix & Prevention. Alternatively, you can get a professional to fix it and service your air conditioner at the same time.
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