How Often Should I Clean My Air Conditioning System?
Nothing beats the outside heat better than your car’s air conditioning (a/c) system—that is, if it’s working properly in the first place. A fully functioning car air conditioning unit makes summers bearable and comfortable, while a defective one can make you feel like you are being grilled in your own sweat.
The ironic thing is that the cold air you feel inside your car is really hot gas removed from hot air from outside. It’s the magic of thermodynamics, but we’re not here to explain this to you. It’s enough that you know that there’s some serious science behind such a system, and that you make an effort to keep it functioning at its best. And the best thing to start with? Keeping your car air conditioning system clean.
The Importance of Cleaning Your Air-conditioning System
The word “clean” and “maintenance” are closely related together. In fact, neither would exist without the other. Just like the human body gets occasionally clogged with toxins, your car’s air conditioner can get bogged down with dirt, hair, pollen, dust, fur, and other small debris when you drive it. so it's important to make sure you clean your car to avoid extra
A dirty filter forces your air conditioner to work harder, adding strain to the car engine, wasting energy, and demanding more fuel to function properly. This increases your car costs in the long run, burning it out faster, and lessening its effectiveness. And just like all mechanical parts, they can also be subjected to wear and tear.
Cleaning it requires you to take all the “gunk” out of its system, much like a person fasts for some days to get rid of all the toxins inside his or her body. In short, regular cleaning and maintenance protects it from eventually breaking down. It also lessens your engine load and fuel consumption, thus lowering your car bill every month.
Unfortunately, car air conditioners are easily neglected during routine inspections because they are not always included in a standard car service. This is the reason why some of these cooling systems break down suddenly, even surprising drivers who have been very diligent in their car maintenance.
So, how often should you clean your car’s air conditioner? Well, It depends on how much you use your car. Generally, you’ll get a “feel” when it needs a bit of a brush up, paying particular attention to subtle clues, such as the car not getting as cool as it once was, or taking longer for the car to get colder.
How to Clean your Car Air Conditioning System
1. Take your air-conditioner apart
You need to dismantle your air conditioner to clean its interior parts. But before you do this, it’s important that you understand the main parts of the entire unit, which is made up of five components that work together:
- Receiver-Drier or Accumulator
- Orifice tube or Expansion valve
This is considered the “heart” of your air conditioner. Its function is to pressurize the refrigerant (gas) so it cools the air in the process. The compressor can be turned on or off, depending on your need for colder air.
The Expansion valve is the place where the system changes from hot to cold, or from high pressure to low pressure.
Also known as the Receiver-Drier, the accumulator compresses the gas form of your refrigerant and catches the liquid form from getting inside, thus, preventing damages to the compressor.
The Evaporator has a series of tubes with fins, where air passes freely and the tubes transport the refrigerant. Here, warm air that comes from the car goes to the evaporator while the refrigerant absorbs this air. It then condenses humidity on a cool surface, dripping out from a tube. The refrigerant then goes to the condenser.
The condenser is usually placed at the front of the car, beside your car radiator. Its main function is to absorb the heat and then release it. When it enters the condenser as a high-pressure vapor, it then cools inside the condenser, and is transformed into a high pressure liquid.
Once you’ve disassembled the parts, then it’s time to flush. No, we’re not talking about doing a number 1 or 2 here; we’re talking about getting rid of the contaminants to keep your air conditioner running smoothly.
Flushing is simply removing debris, particles, and other gunk that restricts the flow of the oil and refrigerant in your car’s system. In many cases, these debris and contaminants will stick to the oil, doing nasty stuff that clogs the system.
How to Flush
Use an aerosol air conditioner to flush out each part of the system, letting the gunk and dirt come out on one end. After this, wipe them down with a clean cloth.
3. Check the Ducts
The ducts actually resemble large tubes attached from the evaporator tubes. The first thing you need to inspect is any kind of leak coming out of these tubes. Look for holes and patch them up with a duct tape.
4. Take Out the Accumulator
The accumulator’s main role is to sift the debris and air condensation that will get inside the car. It often gets clogged up with debris and dust, so inspect it often to make sure that it’s clear (just look for the one that looks like a coffee can). If you find that it’s too bogged down, then you will need to replace it.
5. Change the Accumulator
It’s ideal to buy a new accumulator than clean it. This part is available at any auto parts shop, but always remember to match the model with your vehicle. Installing it easy—just bolt it like the old one you have and re-connect all the components and hoses.
A Final Word
While doing a DIY is great, it’s also helpful to have your vehicle checked by a professional mechanic or car air-conditioning specialist from time to time. Generally, it’s good to have it cleaned every year so you can prevent expensive breakdowns in the future. That way, you can maximize your savings while getting the most comfortable ride inside your car.