How to Clean Your Air Conditioning Condenser Unit

Extending the life of your air conditioner and avoiding costly maintenance is as easy as routinely cleaning it. By doing so, you will also reduce energy consumption and boost the efficiency of the unit’s capability to cool the air in your home.

As outdoor condenser units are installed in easy access locations, homeowners are able to perform simple maintenance without the necessity of calling a professional. To maximize efficiency and prolong the life of your unit, air conditioner and condenser unit maintenance should be performed once in the beginning of the cooling season (mid to late spring), and again at the end (early to mid autumn).

The following how-to guide will walk you through the proper cleaning of your air conditioner’s condenser unit.

Cleaning the Outdoor Condenser Unit

Your objective here is to clean the condenser coil and its fins. The unit’s efficiency can be dramatically reduced as the fan inside the unit sucks air through the fins, bringing dead leaves, grass, bugs, and anything else floating nearby. This adds up over time and obstructs the airflow needed for the unit to properly function. Take the following steps to clean your unit:

Step 1. Turn Off the Power – Step one is to shut off the source of electricity! First, make sure that the unit’s thermostat is in the off position. Then, near the condenser unit, locate the breaker or switch box. It may be a switch or lever (turn to the off position), or it may be a fuse block which you simply pull out.

Turning off power before cleaning the air conditioning condenser unit
Disconnecting air conditioning condenser unit fuse from fuse box
Do not begin maintenance until you are absolutely certain that power to the unit has been shut off.

air conditioning fuse removed from fuse box for safety
Step 2. Remove Debris from the Coil and Fins – Be very careful when cleaning the fins, they are easily bent. Using a soft brush or a vacuum with a soft brush attachment, clean the fins by gently brushing between them, following the line of the fins (usually up and down). Never brush against the direction of the fins, this will do more harm than good.

Vacuuming air conditioning condenser coil fins from outside
Step 3. Straightening Bent Fins – Bent fins may be straightened with a butter knife (avoid sharp knives and tools when cleaning the fins). For straightening multiple fins, there are special combs made for straightening which may be purchased at your local hardware store. Finally, if large areas have been crushed, have a professional straighten them on the next routine visit.

Step 4. Remove the Fan for Internal Access – Unscrew the screws that secure the fan to the unit. Use caution when pulling the fan up or to the side, the wiring is attached to the body of the unit.

Removing screws from air conditioning condenser unit fan assembly housing
Removing and inspecting air conditioning condenser fan assembly
Make sure the fan and its housing are clean. Newer models have an encased fan unit and do not require maintenance. Older models will have oil (lubrication) ports. If this is the case, refer to the owner’s manual for the proper oil and amount to be applied.

Tip – Never use cooking oils or displacement oils, they are not intended for long term lubrication and will cause more harm than good.

Some models will have a belt driven system. In this case, look for oil ports on the motor, and apply the proper amount of oil as recommended by the owner’s manual or model specifications.

Step 5. Cleaning the Inside of the Condenser Unit – With the fan housing detached, vacuum the inside of the unit. Again, make sure to use a soft brush or vacuum attachment when cleaning the fins.

Vacuuming air conditioning condenser coil fins from inside
For situations with a lot of build up from dust and debris, remove as much as possible with a brush or vacuum, or both. Follow up by using a hose to spray the coil and fins from the inside out. Do not use high pressure or a pressure washer! The fins are easily bent and crushed when hit with anything under pressure.

Step 6. Reassembling and Preparing for Use – Once the coil and fins are cleaned and straightened, replace the fan assembly and secure it to the unit.

Replacing air conditioning condenser fan assembly and fastening screws
Before moving on, allow time for the condenser unit to dry (if water was used to clean the fins).

Return the power switch or lever to the “ON” position or replace the fuse block. Turn the thermostat on to the cooling mode and enjoy the fresh cool air.

Replacing the fuse for the cleaned air conditioning condenser
Restoring power after cleaning the air conditioning condenser unit
Watch this video for a visual explanation of cleaning your air conditioning condenser unit:

After cleaning your condenser unit, consider cleaning or scheduling your air ducts and vents. Visit https://nadca.com/homeowners/proper-cleaning-methods for benefits and related info.

Proper and Regular Maintenance

Ensuring the most efficient operation and extending the life of your air conditioning system are as simple as following a maintenance schedule. By doing this, you are able to detect issues early on and take preventative measures to ensure the longevity of your equipment. When larger issues arise or you’ve detected irregularities, call on a professional to help you “keep your cool”.

Visit  www.homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/heating-cooling/ for more AC articles, resources and how-to tips.

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How to Unclog and Plunge a Clogged Toilet

Of all the rooms in a home or business, the last one you want to have drainage issues with is the bathroom. By virtue of the business we perform there, backups can be a serious mess full of bacteria and fecal matter, not to mention expensive to have cleaned up.

If you experience a clogged or overflowing toilet, follow these steps to clear the line and restore your toilet to working function.

Using a Plunger to Clear the Clog

In the majority of cases, clogged toilets can be remedied with a plunger. If the toilet is clogged, do not flush it. This can cause an overflow taking bacteria and fecal matter to the floor of the bathroom.

1. Make sure there is enough water in the bowl to completely cover the bell of the plunger.

plunger in a clogged toilet that was overflowing
2. If necessary, use a bucket of water to fill the bowl – again, don’t flush.

pouring water to cover a plunger inside a clogged toilet bowl
3. Submerse the plunger and depress slowly to expel the air in the plunger’s bell

depressed plunger in a clogged toilet bowl
4. Then using strong and fast strokes, plunge until the water level in the bowl drops to the middle of the bell (refill and repeat this process if necessary).

fully depressed plunger in a clogged toilet bowl
plunging a clogged toilet drain that was overflowing
5. When using the plunger correctly, the suction pressure that is created clears the obstruction. You may hear bubbling as the drain is cleared, and the water will flow freely down the toilet bowl.

cleared toilet drain after using a plunger

Best Plunger & Another Tool to Clear Your Drain

The best use of a plunger is when a drain has been stopped with toilet tissue and soft matter. The force created can clear other materials.

Watch this video for an explanation of plungers and the best technique depending on what is clogging your drain:


However, for hard materials like a toothbrush or a comb that are in your toilet bowl drain, you may need a snake or drain auger.

This device is made of metal and has a claw like attachment to pierce and force anything through the drain. If unsuccessful with a plunger, snakes can be purchased at your store, or professional versions can also be rented.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

If the clog persists after plunging or using an auger, it is time to consult a plumbing professional. Some clogs build up over time and can be located much further into the waste pipe which a typical auger may not be equipped to handle.

Call in a professional to assure the drain will be properly unclogged without creating an overflowing “biohazard” mess on your floors.

Visit www.homeandgardeningguide.com/repairs/plumbing/ for more plumbing articles, resources and how-to tips.

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10 tips for creating a beautiful balcony garden

You don’t need a yard to create a luscious garden. Follow these expert tricks and make your own flora-filled sanctuary.

balcony-garden

1. Get your light right. Before you buy anything, take the time to learn how many hours of sun per day your balcony receives. Pay attention to indirect light as well — that is, no trees or walls blocking large portions of the sky. Even a north-facing balcony can be a happy home for many plants if there is enough indirect light. For full sun, plant: Grasses, succulents (like echeveria), morning glory vines, strawberries, lettuce, lavender, oregano, sage, mint and basil. For lots of shade, plant: Coleus, English ivy, most types of ferns, fuschia, peace lilies and begonias.

2. Be an organized shopper. When buying plants, group them together by their light and moisture requirements.

3. Take a whiff. Don’t forget about scent when you are choosing your plants. It’s the final ingredient that makes your balcony garden an oasis!

4. Check your planters. Make sure the containers you plan to use are compatible with the growth habits of your plants. Make sure they have adequate drainage as well.

pastel-flowerpots-photo-farrow-ball

5. Don’t use just any dirt. Use a potting soil that is designed for containers — these soils are very light.

6. Cover soil with mulch. Avoid dry soil with moss, pea gravel or shredded cedar.

7. Use a top dressing of compost.Compost tea is great for apartment dwellers or anyone who can’t make compost, meaning its good for indoors and containers. Use it instead of water for your plants. Try: Urban Harvest Worm Castings Plant Tea, $14 (for 10 large bags), Urban Harvest.

8. Give the plants a good drink. If you are in a windy area your plants will need more watering, most likely once per day in the summer. Terra cotta pots also require more frequent watering than plastic or fibreglass.

9. But make sure you don’t rush watering. Water slowly and thoroughly until excess water drains out the bottom of the container.

Read the full article here: http://www.chatelaine.com/home-decor/top-10-balcony-gardening-tips/