The more often you run your air conditioner, the more often it will need to be serviced. The exterior condenser unit of a central AC system is particularly vulnerable. Since it is exposed to the elements, certain components can get dirty, causing it to have reduced efficiency. Even during the winter time, when you aren't running your air conditioner, the condenser can get dirty. This will definitely effect its functionality when you fire it during the summer. This article explains two ways to clean and improve the efficiency of your condenser unit.
Keep it Covered
First of all, you need to keep your condenser covered when you aren't using it. This does not mean that you need to cover it for short periods of time, like a couple days when you aren't using it. However, you should keep it fully covered during the winter months when it won't be powered on at all. If you do this, the following maintenance will be much easier, and sometimes completely unnecessary.
Clean the Main Fan Compartment
The main fan compartment of your condenser unit will probably get clogged with leaves if you leave it uncovered. The top is only protected by a metal cage. First, you need to remove the cage to clean inside the compartment (after you shut off power to the unit). You can remove the small screws with a cordless power drill. Lift the cage off of the compartment and look inside. A hose vacuum with an extenstion attachment will allow you to reach the bottom of the compartment. Suck up any dirt and leaves on the bottom of the compartment. You should also wipe down the fan blades and sidewalls with a wet rag.
Clean the Condenser Coils
The condenser coils are a key part of the unit. They are easy to find because they line the exterior walls of the unit. You can see the aluminum sheets behind the protective cage. You don't need to remove the cage to clean the coils. In fact, all you really need is a hose and some household cleaner. First, spray the cleaner onto the coils. Let it soak in for a bit, then spray it off with strong stream of water. This should loosen and wash away most of the dirt in between the ridges of the coils.
This is obviously simple maintenance that you should not overlook. It will ultimately reduce your utility bills and increase the lifespan of your unit. For more information, contact companies like Bob Bergen Heating & Air Conditioning.