Outdoor HVAC unit outside of a house

How to Clean Outdoor HVAC Units

While many HVAC maintenance tasks are best left to the professionals, there are still some simple tasks you can easily take care of yourself! One such task is cleaning your outdoor HVAC units.

This quick and simple chore can help keep your heating and cooling system running efficiently. It can also extend the lifespan of your unit. If you’re not the DIY type, consider signing up for a Texas Ace Preventative Maintenance Plan. Our plans include two maintenance inspections a year where we’ll take care of simple tasks like this, and more!

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, we’ve got a few tips to share below on how to clean your HVAC units.


How Often to Clean Outdoor HVAC Units

For a majority of homeowners, twice-yearly cleaning is sufficient. Generally, you’ll want to do this right before the hottest and coldest seasons start. Clean HVAC units once in the late fall, and again during the spring. You can of course clean your units more often if necessary! If lawn clippings, fallen leaves, animal nests, or other debris get into the unit then you’ll want to clear them away.

The Tools You’ll Need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Soft-bristled brush (if needed)
  • Garden hose
  • Shop vacuum with a soft-bristled attachment
  • Fin comb
  • Rags


Safety First

Before you begin, make sure the power to your outside unit is turned OFF. This will prevent electric shocks and keep the fans turned off.


How to Clean HVAC Units

To begin cleaning, clear away any debris from the outside of the unit. Trim back any trees, bushes, or grass growing too close. Obstacles like these can impede airflow to the unit. This in turn will lower the unit’s efficiency!

You can use a shop vacuum to clear away any stubborn dirt or debris from outside your unit. You’ll want to use a soft-bristled attachment to avoid scratching your unit’s cover. This is especially helpful to remove anything stuck in the fins. You may also use a fin comb, or a dull flat utensil such as a butter knife to remove anything stuck in the fins. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can use these same tools to straighten out any bent fins.


Cleaning Inside Your HVAC Unit

To clean inside your unit, you’ll need to remove the unit’s access panel. You’ll likely need your screwdriver for this.

Once you have the unit opened up, inspect the condenser coils for dirt, dust, and any other built-up debris. Using a soft-bristled attachment, you can carefully vacuum your coils and fans. Be careful and make sure that you don’t press too hard! You don’t want to bend or damage the coils, fans, or fins. This means no scrubbing with the vacuum’s brush attachment. For any stubborn spots, a wipe down with a damp rag should do the trick!


Pro-tip: How to Remove Sap

If your unit has tree sap on any of the components, you can remove it with a few simple tools and a bit of patience. You’ll need isopropyl rubbing alcohol and a sap remover such as Goo Gone. Check out this great guide on how to remove sap from your HVAC unit.

Once everything looks good, you can replace the access panel and the screws. You’re done!


Residential & Commercial HVAC

If you notice any wear and tear or damage to your unit, call Texas Ace and schedule a maintenance appointment! We’ll inspect your entire system, and make repairs or replacements as needed.

Our team of skilled HVAC technicians in Dallas/Fort Worth is here to help. Contact us online anytime with questions or to make an appointment request.