Clean up for a fresh start to winter

man removing air filter from split system unit for cleaning

With the change of season, it’s time to clean your split-system air conditioner unit, especially in areas with high humidity.

Apparently, you need to clean them at least once every year, so note to self: go home and clean your aircon filters because I have never done it. Some manufacturers recommend every couple of weeks, but that’s only really necessary if you use it a lot. At least clean it before and after the season you use it the most.

And really, it should be obvious. Filters clean out dust and muck out of the air, so they absolutely should be cleaned regularly.

Apart from anything else, cleaning the filters also improves energy efficiency as the motor no longer has to power through a clogged, dirty filter.

Read: Simple winter cleaning tips to make your home sparkle

Cleaning the filters in humid areas is especially important as mould can develop on the filters and condensing coils – the pipes the refrigerant gas runs through – which could push mould spores to be distributed throughout your house.

If you can clearly see mould, unless you feel confident doing it yourself, it might be time to have it professionally serviced, although kits are available for about $100.

First up, it seems obvious, but find the manual, use the model to find it online if you need to, and look up how to open the unit to access and clean the filters.

Read: Easy home maintenance chores to avoid insurance claims

If your unit has a ‘dry out’ program, run this through first. The ‘dry out’ program evaporates any moisture that has condensed on the heat exchanger, preventing mould and smells.

Always turn off the unit at the wall before you go sticking your hand into anything.

Remove the filters and give them a good brush or shake or even vacuum – best to do this outside – and if they are still a bit mucky then wash gently in soapy water and rinse thoroughly. They must be completely dry before you replace them.

As for louvres, if you can remove them give them a wash in soapy water and if you can’t, a good wipe down.

Read: How to banish odours from your home

Wave the vacuum through as much of the unit as you can while you have the filters and louvres out and then gently, but firmly replace everything.

While you are on a roll, check the outdoor unit and remove any plants, dust or cobwebs that might have built up and run the vacuum over the air intake. Do not open the outdoor unit unless you are a professional.

Call in the professionals once a year if you use your unit regularly; live in a dusty or humid environment, or the unit is clearly not working to its full capacity.

As well as a proper clean, a professional service person will also be able to check for any leaks or blocked pipes.

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Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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