How to Maintain an Air Conditioner: The Definitive Guide

Are you feeling overwhelmed with thoughts of: How do I clean and maintain my air conditioner? Don’t worry, you are not alone!

Many homeowners find themselves unsure of what needs to be done to keep their air conditioner running smoothly. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide on air conditioner maintenance.

In this blog post, we will provide you with all the information you need to properly maintain your air conditioner for optimum performance. So let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Importance of maintaining air conditioners

Maintenance of your air conditioner is essential to keep it in good working order and ensure its longevity. Proper maintenance not only prolongs the life of your AC unit but also improves its performance.

This can help:

Neglecting regular maintenance can result in totally opposite of the above points:

  • Decreased efficiency
  • Higher energy bills 
  • Potential system failure
  • Reduced lifespan
  • Increased repair costs
  • Poor indoor air quality
  • Health risks
  • Even having to replace the entire system

It is important to regularly inspect and service your air conditioner to ensure that it continues to operate at peak efficiency. By properly maintaining your AC system, you can expect better performance, better comfort and lower energy bills.

With that, let’s move on to the maintenance of your air conditioner.

Basic Maintenance Tasks

Here are some basic maintenance tasks you will have to do yourself.

Cleaning the air filter

Cleaning your air filter regularly is essential to proper air conditioner maintenance.

This will help ensure that your unit is running efficiently, and will also reduce the amount of dust, dirt and other particles that can accumulate in the system. 

Cleaning the air filter

To clean your air filter, simply remove it from the unit and use a vacuum or brush to remove any accumulated dirt. Once it’s clean, replace it and you’re done!

Cleaning the exterior of the unit

According to, the exterior of your air conditioning unit should be cleaned at least once a year to keep it working at its best. Begin by removing any debris from the outside of the unit, such as leaves, dirt, and cobwebs. This can be done with a garden hose (Amazon) and a soft brush.

Next, check the condenser coil for dirt or other debris. This can be done with a soft brush or vacuum cleaner attachment. If necessary, use an approved cleaner to remove any dirt or grease build-up. Finally, use a water hose to rinse off the coil to remove any remaining dirt or residue.

Lubricating moving parts

Lubricating the moving parts of your air conditioner is an important part of routine maintenance. Lubrication prevents wear and tear, helping your unit last longer. 

However, it is essential to select the correct type of lubricant for your specific model. To prevent damage to your unit, consult your user manual before lubricating any parts.

Before applying lubricant, make sure all parts are clean and dry. Remove any excess dirt or debris with a soft cloth. Use a small amount of lubricant on each part; Don’t overdo it. Finally, make sure you wipe off any excess lubricant before restarting your unit.

Watch this video to know how to lubricate an air conditioner: Oil Air Conditioner Condenser Fan

Checking and Refilling Refrigerant

Now let’s do the maintenance of your air conditioner unit’s refrigerant and check it and refill it if it is low.

Signs that refrigerant is low

Refrigerant plays an essential role in the performance of your air conditioner. When the refrigerant level is too low, your air conditioner will not be able to cool your home properly. 

To ensure that your unit is operating at its best, it’s important to keep a close eye on refrigerant levels and know the signs that indicate it may be time to refill.

Some common signs that indicate a low refrigerant level include:

  • Reduced airflow coming from the vents
  • Inability to maintain the desired temperature
  • Warm air blowing from the vents
  • Increase in the electricity bill
  • Refrigerant pipes coated in ice
  • Unusually loud noises such as bubbling or hissing coming from the air conditioner.

If you see any of these warning signs, it may be time to check your air conditioner’s refrigerant level and refill it if necessary. 

Before refilling the unit, it is important to consult a professional technician to confirm whether the unit needs more refrigerant.

Refilling with the wrong type of refrigerant can potentially damage your air conditioner, so it’s important to seek expert advice first.

Safety precautions for handling refrigerant

Safety precautions for handling refrigerant

Credit: WikiHow

Refrigerant handling is a delicate process that requires special attention and care. Here are some safety precautions you should follow when working with refrigerants:

  • Wear safety goggles and a breathing mask to protect yourself from any dangerous chemicals in the air.
  • Make sure the unit is unplugged or its power is turned off, as this may result in an electric shock.
  • When handling refrigerant, always use a properly calibrated pressure gauge to measure the pressure.
  • Do not exceed recommended pressure for the unit.
  • Add refrigerant slowly and carefully to avoid damage to the unit.
  • Refrigerant is highly flammable, so make sure you keep it away from any open flames or sparks.

Steps for refilling the refrigerant

It is important to note that refilling refrigerant is a highly specialized job that should only be performed by a trained and licensed professional with specialized tools and safety equipment.

Well, if you are sure that you can do it then make sure to follow all the safety precautions and do it with the help of all safety tools and equipment.

Here are the steps to refill refrigerant:

  1. First, you need to buy the right type of refrigerant for your air conditioner. Check your owner’s manual for information on the type of refrigerant you buy.
  2. Before starting the procedure, make sure that the air conditioner is turned off and the power is disconnected.
  3. Locate the low-pressure service port on the air conditioner. This is usually near the compressor and should be marked with an “L”.
  4. Connect a can tap or refrigerant hose to the low-pressure port on your AC.
  5. Connect the can tap or the other end of the refrigerant hose to the can of refrigerant and open the valve to begin releasing refrigerant into the system.
  6. Allow refrigerant to fill the system until it reaches the pressure specified in your owner’s manual or on the refrigerant can. This is usually indicated by a gauge located on the can tap or refrigerant hose.
  7. Once the desired pressure is achieved, close the valve and disconnect the can tap from the low pressure port.
  8. Dispose of remaining refrigerant in accordance with local regulations.
  9. Reconnect the power and turn on the air conditioner to see if it is cooling properly.
  10. Finally, check for any leaks with a special leak detector solution. If there are any leaks, you’ll need to fix them before moving on.

Checking and Tightening Electrical Connections

After filling the refrigerant, now let’s move on to maintaining the electrical connections of your AC unit.

Importance of secure electrical Connections

Electrical connections are an essential part of air conditioner maintenance. To ensure that your air conditioner is working properly, you need to make sure that all electrical connections are secure and properly connected.

If not properly maintained, these connections can cause the unit to malfunction, which can increase energy bills and reduce the lifespan of your air conditioner. Fortunately, checking and tightening electrical connections is a relatively easy task for anyone with a basic knowledge of wiring and electricity.

Let’s take a look at the inspection and tightening steps of electrical connections of an air conditioners:

Steps of inspecting and tightening connections

  1. Turn off the power of the air conditioner. This is done by turning off the power at the circuit breaker box.
  2. Inspect all electrical connections. Look for any signs of corrosion or wear on the connections as well as any loose connections.
  3. Tighten all electrical connections with a screwdriver. Be sure to use a screwdriver that fits snugly into the connection.
  4. Replace any old or corroded connections if necessary. Be sure to replace them with new connections that are rated for the voltage and amperage requirements of your air conditioner.
  5. Turn the power back on to the air conditioner. Make sure all connections are tight before turning the power back on.

Checking and Cleaning Evaporator and Condenser coils

Importance of clean coils for efficiency

Evaporator and condenser coils are essential for the operation of an air conditioner. The evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air inside your home, while the condenser coil releases heat outside.

For these coils to work properly and efficiently, they must be kept clean. If the coils become clogged with dirt or debris, it can reduce the efficiency of the air conditioner and cause it to fail prematurely. 

In fact, according to, keeping evaporator and condenser coils clean can reduce energy costs by up to 30%. Therefore it is important to keep the evaporator and condenser coils clean.

Steps of Cleaning coils

Cleaning your air conditioner coils is a simple task that helps ensure the unit runs more efficiently and lasts longer. To clean the evaporator and condenser coils, you will need the following materials: 

  • A soft brush
  • An all-purpose cleaner
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • And a coil cleaning spray

With that said here are the steps to clean the coils:

  1. Start by turning off the power to the unit.
  2. Next, remove the fan guard or shroud that covers the evaporator and condenser coils.
  3. Use a soft brush to gently remove any dirt or debris that may be stuck to the coils.
  4. Use an all-purpose cleaner to thoroughly clean the coils. Be sure to avoid getting any of the cleaners on the wiring or other electrical components of the air conditioner.
  5. After the coils are clean, use a vacuum cleaner to suction any excess dirt and debris from the coils.
  6. Spray the coil cleaning solution directly onto the coils and let it sit for several minutes.
  7. Rinse the coils with water, then dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  8. Replace the fan guard or shroud before turning the power back on.

By taking these steps to clean your air conditioner coils, you can help your unit run more efficiently and increase its life expectancy.

Learn more: A step-by-step to cleaning ac coils

Checking and Cleaning Drain Line and Drain Pan

Importance of proper drainage for air conditioner operation

The drain line and pan are essential components in your air conditioner that should be checked and cleaned regularly. 

Without proper drainage, condensation will build up and water will leak from the unit. This can lead to mold and other problems that can harm your air conditioner and your home. 

It is important to check and clean the drain line and pan regularly to ensure proper drainage is being maintained.

Steps for cleaning the drain line and pan

  1. Locate the air conditioner drain line and pan. If the pan is empty, it is likely that the drain line is blocked.
  2. Use a wet/dry vacuum to get any debris out of the drain line and pan. Be sure to wear gloves and safety glasses when performing this task.
  3. If necessary, disconnect the drain line from the air conditioner and wash it out with a garden hose.
  4. Use a small brush to clean the inside of the drain line. This will help remove any remaining debris.
  5. Reconnect the drain line to the air conditioner, making sure it is properly secured.
  6. Use a garden hose to flush out any remaining dirt in the drain pan. When finished, use a cloth to wipe down the drain pan to remove any excess moisture.

Regular checking and cleaning of your air conditioner’s drain line and pan is essential for proper drainage. 

By following these steps, you can ensure that your air conditioner’s drain line and pan stay free of debris and function properly for years to come.

Learn more: A step-by-step to cleaning ac drain line

Checking and Calibrating the Thermostat

Importance of accurate thermostat readings

The thermostat is the nerve center of an air conditioner. This tells the unit when to turn on and off to maintain a specific temperature. 

If the thermostat is not accurate, the air conditioner will not be able to maintain the desired temperature. This will cause the air conditioner to work harder, which can lead to higher energy bills and more frequent repairs.

To make sure the thermostat is reading accurately, you should periodically check it with a thermometer and adjust it as necessary.

Steps for calibrating the thermostat

  1. Begin by switching on the power to the thermostat. If your air conditioner is connected to the main switch, turn that off as well.
  2. Remove the thermostat cover to access the calibration screws. Carefully remove the screws with a screwdriver and set them aside.
  3. Check the existing settings on the thermostat carefully. This will help you when you need to return the thermostat to its original setting.
  4. Use a thermometer to measure the room temperature and adjust the calibration screws accordingly. You can also refer to the instruction manual to understand the ideal temperature range for your system.
  5. After making the necessary adjustments, secure the cover and turn on the power to the thermostat. Make sure all connections are firmly tightened.
  6. Finally, check whether the settings are programmed correctly and the air conditioner is working optimally.

Learn more: How To Calibrate A Thermostat Properly?

Checking and Tightening Mounting Bolts

Importance of secure mounting for air conditioner stability

Maintaining the stability of an air conditioner is essential for it to operate correctly and safely. To do this, you need to check and tighten all mounting bolts. The mounting bolts are responsible for securing the air conditioner in place, ensuring that it will not move or vibrate during operation.

If the air conditioner is not installed securely, it can cause a number of problems. A loose mounting can create vibrations, which can lead to problems like:

  • Noise pollution 
  • Possible damage to your home’s foundation.
  • Vibration can also cause the air conditioner to become unbalanced and misaligned, and result in reduced efficiency.
  • If high winds or other external forces are acting on it, it could damage or displace the unit.

Steps for inspecting and tightening mounting bolts

Therefore it is important to check and tighten all mounting bolts to ensure that your air conditioner unit is free from these above problems.

And to help you do that here are some steps to help you tighten your AC unit’s mounting bolts.

  1. Locate the mounting bolts that secure the air conditioner cabinet to the structure. These bolts can usually be found near the top of the unit and are usually four in number.
  2. Check each bolt for tightness. If any of them are loose, they will need to be tightened using a wrench. It is important to note not to over tighten the bolts as this may damage the cabinet or structure.
  3. Use a cross-pattern tightening technique to make sure all bolts are evenly tightened. This means that you should first tighten two bolts on one side of the cabinet and the other two bolts on the other side before moving on.
  4. Tighten each bolt until it is snug against the cabinet and structure of the air conditioner. Be sure to check each bolt again with a wrench after tightening to make sure it hasn’t been over-tightened.
  5. Repeat these steps for any other mounting bolts located on the bottom of the air conditioner’s cabinet.

By regularly checking and tightening all mounting bolts on your air conditioner, you can ensure that your air conditioner remains stable and secure. This will help improve its performance, reduce energy consumption and reduce the chances of any external forces damaging your unit.

Advanced Maintenance Tasks

Maintain an air conditioner unit

Let us now learn about some of the advanced maintenance tasks of an air conditioner:

Checking and replacing the compressor

Replacing the compressor is an important step in keeping your air conditioner working properly and efficiently. This is a complicated job that should only be attempted by a professional technician. 

To check and replace the compressor, the technician must first remove the entire top of the air conditioner and then inspect the interior for any signs of damage or wear and tear.

Signs of a damaged compressor:

Here are some signs that the compressor in your air conditioning unit may be damaged or experiencing wear and tear:

  • Reduced cooling performance
  • Strange Noises
  • Fluid leaks
  • Increased energy consumption

Inspecting and replacing the fan motor

The fan motor is an essential component of your air conditioner, as it helps keep the coils cool and distribute cool air through the ducts. 

It is important to check the fan motor regularly to make sure it is working properly and is not causing any problems.

To begin:

  • Turn off the power to your air conditioner.
  • Next, you’ll need to locate the fan motor and inspect it for any signs of wear or damage.

If you spot a problem, it’s best to have a professional technician come out and replace the motor as soon as possible.

Even if the fan motor appears to be in good working order, you should still replace it periodically as part of a preventive maintenance plan.

And according to, the expected lifespan of a fan motor in an air conditioning unit is typically between 10 and 20 years. This means that if the motor fails, it may be necessary to consider replacing the entire system rather than just the motor. 😊

By the way, when replacing a fan motor, you’ll need to note the manufacturer and model number of your air conditioner so that you purchase the correct replacement motor.

Once you have the new fan motor in your hands, you’ll need to follow the instructions that came with the motor to install it properly. After you’ve installed the new fan motor, you can test it by turning on the power and checking for any noise or performance issues.

Checking the control board

The control board is the brain of your air conditioner. It controls temperature, fan speed, and other functions that keep your system running smoothly. If there is a problem with your control board, you may end up with an inefficient or completely malfunctioning air conditioner.

To check the control board:

  1. Turn off the power to your air conditioner before you begin working on it.
  2. Look for any signs of rust or corrosion on the control board. If you find one, you’ll need to replace it.
  3. Check the wiring to make sure it’s miles all associated properly. Make sure none of the wires are damaged, frayed, or exposed.
  4. Check the connections on the board for loose screws or bent pins. Tighten any loose screws and replace any bent pins if necessary.
  5. Test the control board by turning on the power and checking the operation of your air conditioner. If it looks like everything is working as it should, then you’re good to go.

Learn more about control board:

Checking your control board regularly can help ensure that your air conditioner is operating safely. Taking the time to do this will not only save you money in the long run.

Checking and replacing the expansion valve

The expansion valve is an important component of your air conditioner that controls the flow of refrigerant from the condenser to the evaporator. 

This valve helps maintain a balanced temperature in your home and helps the air conditioner run more efficiently. If the expansion valve fails or becomes clogged, your air conditioner will not cool properly and could lead to costly repairs. 

With that said, here are some indicators that the expansion valve is malfunctioning, damaged or blocked.

Signs of bad expansion valve

  • Reduced cooling performance
  • Frozen evaporator coil
  • Strange sounds from AC operation
  • Fluctuating airflow through vents

Examining and replacing the humidifier and the dehumidifier

Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are also essential components of your air conditioner. These devices help control the humidity level in your home and make sure it doesn’t get too dry or too damp. 

If any of these components fail, your air conditioner will not operate as efficiently and will be more prone to breakdown. It is important to periodically check both the humidifier and the dehumidifier to make sure they are in good working condition.

Here are some signs to help you identify if the humidifier and dehumidifier on your air conditioner are failing or failed.

Symptoms of a malfunctioning humidifier

  • Inconsistent humidity levels: A malfunctioning humidifier may not be able to maintain a consistent humidity level in the home, resulting in fluctuating humidity levels.
  • Dry air: If the humidifier is not working properly, the air in the home can feel excessively dry.
  • Inefficient Operation: If the humidifier is not working, it may not be able to effectively add moisture to the air, resulting in reduced efficiency.

Symptoms of a malfunctioning dehumidifier

  • High humidity levels: A faulty dehumidifier may not be able to effectively reduce humidity levels, resulting in persistently high humidity levels in the home.
  • Inefficient operation
  • Water Leaks: A faulty dehumidifier can cause water leaks, resulting in water damage or other problems.

If you find that the humidifier or dehumidifier is not working properly, you should have them inspected by a professional. If necessary, they can replace them for you and help restore your air conditioner’s efficiency.

How to Maintain an Air Conditioner: The Ultimate FAQ

Regular maintenance is important to keep your AC running smoothly and efficiently, which can help you save money on energy bills and avoid costly repairs in the future.

In this FAQ section, we’ll answer all of your questions about how to maintain an air conditioner and keep it in tip-top shape during the hot summer months.

Q1: How often should you maintain the air conditioner?

Ans: Maintaining an air conditioner is essential to keeping it running efficiently and preventing costly breakdowns and repairs. The frequency of maintenance will depend on the type of unit you have, the age of your air conditioner, and its rate of use.

Generally, you should have your air conditioner serviced by a qualified technician at least once a year. During this time, they can check the thermostat settings, electrical connections, condenser coils, refrigerant levels, and all other components in the system.

It is also important to perform regular maintenance of your air conditioner yourself. This includes cleaning or changing filters every month, checking for any strange noises coming from the unit, and making sure all vents are open and unobstructed. Performing these simple tasks can help keep your air conditioner in good working order and prolong its life.

Q2. What happens if the air conditioner is not serviced?

Ans: If your air conditioner is not regularly serviced, you run the risk of a number of potential problems. First, not getting your air conditioner serviced regularly can cause dust and dirt to build up in the system, which can block airflow and reduce the unit’s efficiency.

This can cause an increase in your energy bills as the unit needs to use more power to produce the same amount of cooling. Additionally, a lack of regular maintenance can put stress on system components, which can lead to premature failure and costly repairs.

Q3. What are some signs that my air conditioner needs to be replaced?

Ans: Knowing the signs of a failing air conditioner can help you identify when you need to replace it. Here are some common signs that your AC unit needs service or replacement.

Strange noises: If your AC is making strange sounds such as rattling, buzzing or screeching, it could be a sign that something is wrong with the unit and needs to be repaired or replaced.

Insufficient Cooling: If your air conditioner is not producing enough cool air or not cooling the home to your desired temperature, it is time to call a professional to inspect the unit.

Rising Energy Bills: If you’ve noticed an unusually high energy bill despite not using the AC more than usual, it could mean the unit is no longer running efficiently and needs to be serviced or replaced.

Water Leaking: If water is leaking from your air conditioner, this is another sign that something has gone wrong and needs to be fixed.

Poor Airflow: If you’ve noticed a decrease in airflow coming out of the vent, it could mean that there is a blockage in the ductwork that needs to be addressed by a professional.

Q4. What is the maintenance cost of an air conditioner?

Ans: The cost of maintaining an air conditioner can vary greatly depending on the make, model and size of your unit. Generally, the cost of an AC tune-up or maintenance service can range from $75 to $250, as for my opinion.

However, more complex repairs can cost even more. If you would like to get a more accurate estimate of your air conditioner maintenance cost, it is best to contact a local HVAC professional for an inspection.

By the way, let me tell you that according to, the annual maintenance cost of AC ranges from $120 to $360.

Q5. Is it necessary to service the air conditioner every year?

Ans: The simple answer of this question is Yes, it is necessary. Annual servicing can help keep the air conditioner in good condition, prevent major repairs, and improve efficiency. 

Regular servicing will also ensure that any minor issues are caught before they become major problems and there are a lot of benefits of a routine AC maintenance. By getting your air conditioner serviced once a year, you can help extend its life and keep it running at its best.

My Final Thoughts on How to clean and maintain an Air Conditioner

Maintaining an air conditioner is an important part of ensuring that it lasts for many years to come. It is important to check and tighten electrical connections, inspect and clean the evaporator and condenser coils, clean the drain line and pan, calibrate the thermostat, and check and tighten the mounting bolts.

In addition, more advanced maintenance tasks should be performed such as checking and replacing the compressor, fan motor, control board, expansion valve, humidifier, and dehumidifier. 

Taking the time to properly maintain your air conditioner will ensure that it remains efficient and works properly.

More on Air Conditioner from us:

David Jack

David Jack

David Jack is a veteran when it comes to air conditioners, he love helping people find solutions to their problems with AC units. His specialty is helping people find the right Air-Conditioner for their needs, whether that means replacing a broken unit or adding on to an existing system. He is also great at diagnosing problems and fixing them quickly. He learned this from my father Jack Smith who was an air conditioner repairer, he has 2 years of experience in this field.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply