How to Keep Your Air Conditioner Running At Peak Performance

Your air conditioner is a modern luxury that can help you maintain comfortable temperatures and reduce humidity while protecting your family’s health. However, it needs regular maintenance to work at optimal performance.

A clogged air filter, for example, inhibits airflow and pushes your air conditioner to work harder. In addition, the drain line can clog from algae growth.

Clean the Drain Line

Over time, your air conditioner’s drain line can become clogged with gross-looking white slime that prevents condensation from flowing through the pipe. When this happens, water will back into the indoor air conditioning unit and cause leaks and water damage.

You can prevent this by periodically flushing the drain pipe by running a cup of bleach into the access hole next to the interior air conditioner. The bleach will kill mold or mildew and help prevent organic buildup that can lead to a clog.

You should also remove twigs, leaves, and debris that may have accumulated around the outdoor air conditioning unit. If plants, shrubs, or grass are growing around the air conditioning unit, they can restrict airflow and force it to work harder than necessary.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

ac Evaporator Coil

If your air conditioner has an evaporator coil, this is where the humidity is removed from the cooled air that is then delivered to your home. Over time, this coil accumulates dirt, dust, and debris that reduces efficiency. This is why cleaning your coil twice yearly is essential to your preventative maintenance routine.

First, turn off the power to your unit by shutting off the breaker in the outdoor unit box or turning the switch on the inside breaker panel. Next, use a screwdriver or drill to remove the access panels to expose the coil assembly.

Spray a foaming cleaner onto the coils, let it sit for the time specified on the can (usually 5 to 10 minutes), and rinse it with a hose.

Clean the Condenser Coil

Located outside your air conditioner, this coil is responsible for releasing the heat removed from your home’s indoor air. If it is dirty, heating & cooling will be more challenging in your home, which leads to higher energy bills.

Before cleaning the coil, put on some work gloves and clear out any large debris collected in or around the unit, such as leaves, twigs, or grass clippings. Inspecting for bent fins that need to be straightened using a fin brush (available at most hardware stores) is also a good idea.

Once the material has been cleared, use a nylon scrub brush to clean the coil of any large dirt particles or accumulations. Next, mist the coils with the foamy cleaner from the can and allow it to sit for roughly ten minutes.

Check the Fins

Over time, dirt, twigs, leaves, and other debris can become stuck to the fins of your air conditioner. This obstructs the flow of air and reduces performance. During the hot season, you’ll want to regularly clean your air conditioner’s fins to ensure smooth cooling flow.

The condenser coil of your air conditioner is made up of copper tubing surrounded by thin metal fins. The fins can become bent or obstructed, which reduces airflow and increases energy usage. You should regularly straighten the fins using a commercially available comb to keep your air conditioning performing well.

While hosing down an air conditioner will help increase performance, you must take more action to maintain optimal performance.

Check the Condensate Drain

A clogged drain line is one of the most common causes of air conditioner problems. This can lead to overflow and water leaks, so it is essential to check this regularly.

To check the drain line, turn off your air conditioner and locate its access point. This is usually a PVC pipe that can be found inside your home near the evaporator coil enclosure or outside if you have an outdoor unit.

After removing debris from the access point, pour warm water and distilled white vinegar down the line to flush it out. This will break down and kill mold, mildew, and algae that can clog your drain line in the future. This is a great preventative measure to take before the cooling season begins.


Sim is a highly skilled writer and co-founder of Lifestyle Toppings. With a Bachelor's degree in English literature and years of experience in the field of content creation, Sim has become an expert in crafting engaging and informative articles that resonate with readers.