Window unit air conditioners are prime targets for mold and mildew. After all, it doesn’t take much for dust deposits to get wet from condensed water. Even when you turn your window unit air conditioner off, mold and mildew can strike. Before you know it, your window unit air conditioner, as well as your personal health and safety, are at risk.
How to Keep Dust, Mold and Mildew at Bay
How to keep your air conditioner clean, mold- and mildew- free, and in top running condition? You have two choices. Call the professionals or do it yourself. If you choose the professionals, they have all the tools and know-how to clean your window unit air conditioner and remove the mold or mildew. If you do it yourself, you’ll need a few tools and other items to get the job done right, like:
Tin can or other container
Long handled brush
New filter for air conditioner
Where to Begin
With tools in hand, you’re ready to clean your window unit air conditioner and get rid of the mold and mildew it may have accumulated. Where to start? Follow these easy steps. Go slow and use caution.
Step 1: Remove Filter. If it’s a disposable filter, all you need to do is replace it with a new one. If it’s reusable (a great, green alternative), place the filter in the tub, cover it with laundry detergent and let soak for about 15 minutes. Remove from water and rinse. Hang to dry.
Step 2. Remove the grill from the main section of the window unit air conditioner. This can be done by pulling gently on the front grill while pushing it down at the same time. If you face resistance, look for hidden screws. Or, look for spring clips on the bottom of the grill section. Keep track of these items, once removed.
Step 3. Remove metal cover. This cover should life straight up once the screws are removed. Be very careful as you handle this metal cover. Sharp edges can injure you as well as the inner workings of your window unit air conditioner. Once the cover is removed and safely set aside, you can see the inside of your window unit air conditioner.
Step 4. Put screws in tin can or other container. Use a muffin tin to keep the various screws of different shapes and sizes apart. If you’re careful at this point, it will be easier to reassemble your window unit air conditioner.
Step 5. Carefully check fan motor for oil holes or oil plugs. Plugs are usually made of rubber. Use caution in removing these items because rubber can become brittle. This is often a problem in older window unit air conditioners. If plugs break or crumble, make sure you remove the broken material by using the tip of a small screwdriver, pin or other implement.
Step 6. Add a few drops of oil to each end of the motor body. General purpose oil should be sufficient. Be careful not to over oil. 2 or 3 drops should suffice.
Step 7. Use brush to remove surface dust, dirt and grime from the front fins or evaporator. Move your brush in an up and down motion. Going side to side can bend the fins. The fins of a window unit air conditioner are usually made of soft aluminum and can be easily bent or damaged if you’re not careful.
Step 8. Spray with cleaner or degreaser. Consult the experts at your local hardware store or home improvement center like Home Depot or Lowes. You can often use specialty sprays that are made to clean air conditioning units. Sometimes you can substitute regular household sprays like Fantastic or the great, green alternatives used in kitchen and bathroom clean-ups.
Step 9. Let stand. 15 or 20 minutes should do it, or follow the instructions on the cleaner or degreaser.
Step 10. Gently remove excess dust, dirt, grease or grim by pouring warm water onto the fins. Again, be careful not to let water infiltrate the electrical system, connections or components near the coil. To be on the safe side, cover the motor with a rag to prevent water from getting near or on the coil. Whatever you do, don’t pressure treat this area and use extreme caution. Air conditioning coils are filled with high pressure refrigerant.
Step 11. Straighten bent fins. You can often use a Popsicle stick or another implement recommended by the experts at your local hardware store or home improvement center.
Step 12. Repeat the process for the condenser coil (in rear of unit). Go slow. Use caution.
Step 13. Using a clean, soft rag, wipe dust, dirt, grease and grime from fan blades. Be careful not to bend the blades. Bent blades can cause vibration and make your window unit air conditioner noisy in the end.
Step 14. Vacuum all surfaces. This includes the front and back of the grill assembly and the underside of the metal air conditioner cover. Use a clean, moistened rag, if needed.
Step 15. Drain water left in the base. Let dry for several hours. Once dry, test your unit by plugging in the window unit air conditioner and running it for several minutes. If everything looks and sounds okay, unplug and reassemble. Once reassembled, retest for any problems. For example, sometimes replacing the cover can twist the frame of the unit and cause other parts to move out of alignment, causing the fan to rattle. If this happens, remove the cover and realign the unit, adding a few screws at a time to test where the rattle originates.
Storing Your Window Unit Air Conditioner to Keep Mold Away
Keep your unit under cover. Cover your window box air conditioner with plastic wrap or an old blanket and store the unit in a warm, dry area. Keep it off the floor by positioning the unit on blocks, a wooden pallet, or a couple of pieces of wood. By keeping your unit stored in this fashion, you will keep mold and mildew at bay.
Do It Yourself
My Home Improvement
This Old House