Disturbing Tales – Why (and How) to Clean Window AC Units

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Well, here in the northeast summer has fully arrived. For those of you in the mid and southwest it feels as if the Earth is on fire. Now that it finally got warm enough to warrant it, I decided (with the gentle, sweet help of my wife) to put the window AC’s in. For the first time, I decided a clean window AC unit might be a wise move. What led to this change in procedure you might ask? It has to do with our new neighbors. What we saw will make you want to clean your window AC units right now!

Why Clean Window AC Units Should be in Your Future

When our old neighbors moved out, they left most of their stuff, including a window AC unit that stayed in year-round. It was a huge monster of a unit, but apparently worked wonders. Shortly after the neighbors moved in, they fired the window AC up, opting for nice cool evenings in the house instead of sweating to the oldies like we did. Shortly after they got the AC going, their allergies started to kick up and they felt, and I quote, “like a blanket was covering us.” Deciding to check the air conditioner, they pulled out the unit, removed the shroud, and found a thick layer of mold on everything. Who knows how long that stuff had been blowing on the old neighbors (but it might explain at least in part why the old neighbor had to walk around with an oxygen tank at the ripe old age of 62). It was gross and kind of freaked both the new neighbors (and us) out.

This led us to clean all our window AC units. We even found a little mold on the unit that generally sits in a North facing window. Besides cleaning out the units to check for mold, a good clean-out will improve the efficiency of the air conditioning unit. Blowing out or vacuuming out the fan, coil and grill will improve air flow which will result in better running units.

What You’ll Need To Clean Window AC Units

  1. First, after disconnecting power, remove the shroud of the AC. Depending on the model and size of the unit, this can be anywhere from 6 to 12 screws. (Be prepared if the ACs are older units the screws may be monsters to get out)
  2. Remove the shroud and set it aside. Be careful of the wires that lead to the control panel. Working around them can be a bit tedious but can be catastrophic if you mess them up.
  3. Check for any mildew or mold. A good rule of thumb here would be to wear a mask until you checked them.
  4. If there is any mold, spray the spots down with mold/mildew spray that’s safe for AC unit use, and let it sit for a moment. Try to wipe up any spots that you can reach. If you can’t reach the spots directly, just spray the mold and let it sit so you can at least kill the mold.
  5. Carefully brush out the fan, coils and fins to remove any dust and cobwebs.
  6. Vacuum out any leaves, dead bugs or other objects that may be inside the case.
  7. Make sure the drain is clear so that condensation will flow freely.
  8. Put everything back together and kick back and cool off!

Remember, a clean window AC unit is a happy one!

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About Leroy

LeRoy was born into a long line of contractors/carpenters/missing links which maybe why he fell naturally into tools and fishing with his paws, errr, bare hands. He has since punctured, stabbed or electrocuted every appendage that can be discussed in mixed company. Given his natural fur vest, he has never been cold. In his parallel life he is a mild mannered environmental scientist where he builds, destroys and builds again. Which let’s face it is much cooler than Superman’s parallel life.

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10 thoughts on “Disturbing Tales – Why (and How) to Clean Window AC Units”

  1. I just got TONS of black mold out of the inside of mine. I will take the front cover off tomorrow morning. It’s too hot to do anything to an AC after noon here in texas except turn it on!

    • I wonder this too. Ours is in year round in an apartment. We cannot take it out. I am also curious where the screws are – I only see one in the exterior of the cover. I am ALSO curious which parts cannot get wet. It all seems like electric parts…s

    • What are seasons? In Texas there’s just hot, hottest, hotter than hell, & then a few days of cool every year, IF we’re lucky. I’d give anything for seasons & multiple months that my poor a/c doesn’t have to run almost nonstop 24/7.


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