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05/31/2012 08:17 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

How To Clean An Outdoor Air Conditioner Without Hiring A Pro

If you're like us, you're already feeling the intense heat of (unofficial) summer. This weekend, in fact, we found sanctuary thanks to our amazing air conditioners. If you are anticipating the pangs of the soon-to-be scorching season, it's the perfect time to clean your outdoor air conditioner. Why? Because routine cleaning won't only prolong the life of your machine, but an unclogged, debris-less unit will function more efficiently, costing you less in energy bills. What's not to love about that?

The first and most important step to cleaning an outdoor unit is turning off the power switch, which should be located in a small box near the machine. Next, remove any leaves, branches or other debris that may have gotten stuck in the condenser fins, which are the thin metal pieces that run along the exterior of the unit. Then, vacuum the fins with a soft-bristled brush attachment making sure not to bend any fins. Once you're done, unscrew and remove the top grille. The fan will most likely be attached to the grille. Vacuum any debris around the motor. Then, using a hose with a direct spray, wash down the interior walls, avoiding electrical components and not bending any fins. Finally, wipe down the fan blades with a damp cloth.

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