Home Improvement

Essential Guide to Air Conditioner Maintenance

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While the maintenance of most domestic appliances comes down to simple wiping of surfaces and the occasional repair, there are some, which are a bit more demanding. Such is the case with an air conditioning system, regardless of its type.

Whether you have a split-system AC or a ducted air conditioning, there are necessary tasks to perform on a yearly, even seasonal basis, in order to extend your investment’s life and help it maintain maximum efficiency.

What exactly are those tasks, you might ask? We are here to give you all the answers in this special guide! We will provide you with instructions on what, how and when to clean, along with a few extra air conditioner maintenance tips from our professionals on keeping your AC up and running.

Table of Contents:

What maintenance does an air conditioner need?

Any air conditioning system needs special care, in order to perform as expected. This is best provided before a cooling/heating season or, in other words, before the time when you are planning to use the unit the most.

Truth is, some of the simpler maintenance tasks, in the form of cleaning, can be easily done by you at home, as they do not require high expertise and do not pose a threat to your health and safety. Keep in mind, however, that others, regarding the piping, wiring and other more specific components, are better left to a professional HVAC technician for your and your home’s benefit.

If you decide to try and do any maintenance tasks by yourself, we advise you to consider this carefully. Working with electricity is not only dangerous, but also illegal in Australia for anyone who does not hold the necessary licence and permits. Therefore, we recommend refraining yourself from touching or handling the wiring in any way and calling a reliable professional to take a look instead.
If you have the necessary skills and decide to take upon some air conditioner maintenance tasks, it is very important to shut the power off completely, first. Keep in mind that there is a metal box close to the outdoor unit that contains a shut-off switch. Inspect your AC carefully to make sure it is safe to proceed.

Now, let’s help you prepare that air conditioner maintenance checklist!

Dust filters

As the name suggests, the filters’ main purpose is to cleanse the air that goes into the system from dust particles and pollutants. So, you can imagine what an important role these specific parts play. It is not that hard for them to get dirty and clogged, which will result in the underperforming of your air conditioner.

Clear signs that something is wrong with your AC’s filters could be the blowing of hot air instead of cold or not warming up the room despite the unit running for a long period. Blocked dust filters can also cause leakages from both internal and external AC units, even if they are not in operation, and they can also stop your air conditioner from working altogether.

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So, what can you do?

To ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner, you can wash or directly replace the filters. It’s important to note here that this is easier to do for split-system ACs, as with the ducted types, it may be harder to get to the filters. It is also important to know your air conditioning system as best as possible, starting with reading the manual (if you still haven’t).

Since some models have reusable filters while others need to be replaced, you need to find out what’s the case with yours. Locating the dust filters can be challenging sometimes, so we hope the diagram below will give you an insight into a split-system AC mechanism.

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How to take care of the dust filters in a few steps:

  • Check the manual and locate the dust filters on your indoor unit.
  • Remove the plastic cover and inspect the condition of the filters.
  • Take them outside and remove the dust with a soft brush or by vacuuming.
  • Soak the filters in a warm water and soap solution, then rinse well with clean water.
  • Let the filters dry completely.
  • Put them back and close the unit.

You won’t have to do all this if your AC works with disposable filters. In this case, all you’ll have to do is replace the pieces and you will be good to go. It will be beneficial for your air conditioning system if you clean its dust filters at least once a month, even more often when it’s constantly in use.


Ducted air conditioning systems transfer the hot or cold air to different rooms of your home through tubes (ducting), ending with outlets that come in different shapes – vents, registers, etc. They can very easily collect dust or even have mould develop on them, the particles of which can be then blown into the room for you and your family to inhale.

This can cause some irritation and trigger allergies, so wiping the vents of a ducted AC needs definitely goes into an air conditioner maintenance checklist. A simple solution of warm water and detergent will be enough to remove any bacteria but you can also look for specialised antibacterial sprays if you’d prefer.

As for the tubes, they can be more complicated to clean since they are normally located within ceilings or floors. However, they can also harbour mould, due to condensation and this is definitely something you don’t want in air-transferring tubes. A licensed duct cleaning professional can clean them effectively and inspect their structure for damage.

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There are two types of coils. The evaporator (cold) coils are located on the inside AC unit and the condenser (hot) coils that are inside the outdoor unit. Dirt can easily get attached and stay on them, especially if they haven’t been cleaned for more than a year. This, on the other hand, will reflect on your air conditioner’s ability to properly cool a room.

While considerably easy to find, cleaning the coils has its risks.

On one hand, there are the delicate coil fins that can be easily damaged and, on the other, any excessive amount of water can cause electrical problems. On some occasions, this can also affect the AC’s warranty. So, if you don’t feel like taking any chances, you can just request a coil cleaning from a local HVAC technician.

DIY air conditioning maintenance can be risky even if you have some experience! Entrust the job to a certified professional!

Condensate drain

This device plays an important role in your AC’s top performance. It allows the condensation formed during the refrigeration cycle of the system to get outside. However, various factors can contribute to the development of blockages inside the drain. Such can be insects crawling and often dying inside, pieces of materials, mould and others.

Therefore, it is good to inspect and try to keep the condensate drain of your air conditioner always clean from any debris. This will prevent water leakages from the indoor unit or a duct vent.

If you notice a problem with your condensate drain pipe, it is better to call a professional to check it out. You can also try and remove any obstacles blocking it. Here is how:

  • Locate the end of the drain pipe and inspect it both outside and inside.
  • You can try unlocking the drain with a heavy-duty industry vacuum cleaner.
  • To create strong suction, you need to wrap an old cloth, paper or other material around the pipe.
  • Then, you can connect the vacuum hose to the end of the drain pipe and turn on the machine.
  • A strong vacuum will be created and you should be able to pull out whatever is clogging the drain.

General wiping and cleaning of the units

Finally, we can’t miss mentioning the importance of dusting the external parts of your air conditioner units. While you are doing your routine house cleaning, you can dust or wipe with a damp rag the indoor unit and remove any cobwebs nearby. You can also check the air outlets and wipe them as much as possible.

You can do the same for the outdoor unit. Although, it may need more frequent care, given that it is constantly exposed to dust, leaves, wind and other unfavourable conditions. Clearing the area around the outdoor AC unit from vegetation is essential, too. Plants can block the unit, cause electrical damage and also attract various insects and animals to your property.

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How often should you service your air conditioner?

Generally, 1-2 times of servicing/cleaning the units and various components per year should be enough to maintain any air conditioning system in good condition. It is essential to thoroughly prepare your AC for the upcoming hot summer or colder winter days if you have a reverse cycle system.

The end of spring or autumn are both suitable times to take care of this task. This way, you won’t have to worry about your AC stopping unexpectedly when you need it the most or dealing with costly repairs, due to lack of proper maintenance.

What happens if AC is not serviced?

Well, as we’ve already mentioned, there are a lot of things that can happen. However, the most likely outcome is that you will start noticing a significant decline in your air conditioner’s performance. As soon as dust and debris clog filters or coils, other essential components of your AC start underperforming, causing problems like:

  • Insufficient cooling
  • Unusual overheating
  • Constant water leakages
  • Noisier performance and more…

Giving your AC regular and proper care is the only way to be certain that your investment will continue to serve you well and your warranty remains intact.

Of course, cleaning certain elements will only get you so far, as there is a lot more that needs to be checked and possibly replaced. Relying on an experienced professional will guarantee that your AC is properly monitored, cleaned, repaired and serviced.

Worried about your AC’s condition? Contact a reliable technician and cross the AC maintenance off your list!


  • It’s good to have your air conditioner fully checked at least 1-2 times a year. The frequency could be higher, depending on the conditions of the area you live in and usage.
  • AC maintenance includes a lot of things, some of which are out of your competence, but you can still contribute by cleaning the exterior and some internal parts of your system.
  • Dust and moisture are the biggest enemies of your AC. Do not let them accumulate or this could affect not just your air conditioner but your health, too.

Disclaimer: We are a commercial home maintenance service provider. Our purpose with this blog is to provide valuable and accurate content for solely informational purposes. We strongly advise our readers to consider all the risks and health concerns before taking a DIY project. We also highly recommend you get fully informed about the laws and regulations regarding electrical, plumbing and other work in the different states of Australia.

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