With the scorching summer heat and freezing winter temperatures in the Las Vegas Valley, your outdoor HVAC system works tirelessly to keep your home comfortable year-round. But have you ever wondered how often you should clean it? Regular cleaning is essential to ensure the efficiency and longevity of your outdoor HVAC system.
The Recommended Frequency for HVAC Cleaning
Outdoor HVAC systems are often exposed to dirt, debris, and environmental conditions that can affect their performance. As a best practice, we recommend having your outdoor unit cleaned and inspected at least twice a year, ideally during the spring and fall seasons. These periods offer temperate weather conditions, perfect for routine maintenance.
Spring maintenance ensures the unit is ready for the peak summer season while fall maintenance prepares the unit for the colder months. Aside from these seasonal cleanings, you should also clean the system after any severe weather events, like a storm, as they can often clog or damage the system with debris.
What Does Outdoor HVAC System Cleaning Involve?
Cleaning an outdoor HVAC unit is a detailed process that requires attention to several key components. You should schedule a planned HVAC maintenance with a local contractor to regularly clean these parts to keep your system running efficiently. Here is what to expect during an outdoor HVAC system cleaning exercise.
Cleaning the Condenser Coils
The condenser coil expels heat from your home to the outdoors. This coil can collect dust, dirt, and other debris over time, which can build up and inhibit its function. Cleaning the condenser coils involves thoroughly spraying them with a coil cleaner and then rinsing them with water. Ignoring this task could result in the condenser coils becoming so clogged that heat transfer becomes difficult. This can force your system to work harder than necessary, leading to increased energy usage and costs and potentially causing your system to overheat and fail prematurely.
Inspecting and Cleaning the Fan
The fan in your outdoor HVAC unit helps to move heat from the condenser coils to the outside, which is vital for the system’s cooling process. The fan and its blades can collect debris over time, reducing the unit’s efficiency. Cleaning the fan involves removing any visible debris, and in some cases, it might be necessary to remove the fan to clean it thoroughly. It’s also crucial to inspect the fan motor for signs of wear and tear and to ensure that it’s well-lubricated.
Failure to regularly clean and maintain the fan can lead to reduced airflow, forcing your system to work harder to cool your home and causing unnecessary strain on your system.
Checking and Cleaning the Drainage Line
Your outdoor HVAC unit includes a condensate drain line, which removes the condensation produced during the cooling process. This line can become clogged with algae and other debris, which can cause water to back up into your system or home. The drainage line should be checked for blockages, and any clogs should be removed. This might involve using a vacuum or a special solution to clear the line.
Remember, a blocked drain can not only lead to water damage in your home or HVAC system, but it can also create a humid environment that promotes mold growth, harming your indoor air quality.
Clearing the Area Around the Unit
A crucial but often overlooked task when maintaining an outdoor HVAC unit is ensuring that the area around the unit is clean and clear of debris. The outdoor unit needs adequate airflow around all sides to function effectively and efficiently. As such, it’s crucial to remove any obstructions, such as leaves and grass clippings, that may have accumulated around the unit.
Moreover, we also recommend trimming any bushes, trees, or other vegetation that might be encroaching on the unit to ensure at least a 2-foot clearance on all sides. This space prevents the intake of unnecessary debris into the system and ensures that the unit can expel heat effectively.
Ensuring the Outdoor HVAC Unit Is Level
After a professional cleaning service, it’s a good idea to ask the technician to check that your unit is level. Over time, the ground beneath the unit may shift or settle because of natural causes like erosion, heavy rains, or even just the unit’s weight. If the unit becomes uneven, it can cause system operation problems. Primarily, the level of the unit affects the functionality of the compressor.
In addition to potential compressor issues, an unbalanced outdoor unit can lead to improper drainage of condensation from the system. The condensate drain is designed with the assumption that the unit is level, so any tilting can lead to water backing up and potentially damaging the unit or causing water to pool around the foundation of your home.
Because of the heavy lifting and technical knowledge required to assess and adjust the level of an HVAC unit, you’ll want to leave this task to professionals. During a routine cleaning or maintenance visit, an HVAC expert can check the unit’s level, making necessary adjustments.
How Long Does It Take to Clean the Outdoor HVAC Unit?
The time it takes to clean an outdoor HVAC unit can vary depending on several factors, including the size and condition of the unit as well as the specific tasks involved. Generally, if a professional is cleaning just the outdoor unit, it should take around one to two hours. This time frame includes cleaning the condenser coils, inspecting and cleaning the fan, and clearing the area around the unit.
However, if the cleaning involves the entire HVAC system, including the indoor unit and all of the ducts, the process is significantly more time-consuming, taking between three and seven hours. This involves more intricate tasks, such as cleaning and inspecting the evaporator coil, checking the blower motor and heat exchanger, and cleaning the air ducts. This comprehensive cleaning ensures that your HVAC system runs optimally, improving indoor air quality and the overall lifespan of the unit.
How Long Should Air Conditioner Dry After Cleaning?
Once your air conditioning unit has been thoroughly cleaned, it’s essential to let it dry completely before turning it back on. This is to avoid any potential electrical shorts or corrosion caused by moisture coming into contact with the system’s electrical components.
The drying time can vary depending on several factors, such as the humidity level in the air. However, in most cases, a drying time of about two to three hours should be sufficient to ensure that most components are completely dry. Parts like the condenser coil can require up to 24 hours to dry. Your HVAC technician will have the most knowledge and experience to judge the drying time required for your specific system based on the cleaning methods and local weather conditions.
Schedule Your Annual HVAC Maintenance Today!
Are you seeking reliable HVAC services in the Las Vegas area or its surroundings? We provide various home services, from HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance to comprehensive plumbing solutions for water heaters, sewers, and drains. We also offer thorough air quality testing to ensure a healthy environment for you and your family. Contact BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair today to speak with our representative or book an appointment.