Saturday, June 02, 2012

Cleaning our air conditioning units (in Cyprus)

Every year, we hope to wait until at least June before switching on any of our air conditioners. I've been pleasantly surprised at how (fairly) cool it's been during May - I don't think I've even been tempted to use any air conditioning yet. I shouldn't have been surprised - by the end of May last year, Summer was still a week or two away... and I enjoyed the long 'spring' then, too.  

Still, this is Cyprus, and a hot, humid summer is pretty much inevitable. That means that we'll want some air conditioning in the bedroom at night to keep the humidity down, and during the day in any rooms where we're using computers. Plus other odd times - when eating, maybe, or when cooking - when the heat and/or stickiness feel unbearable.

And yes, we know it's something of a luxury to be able to do this - and are very thankful for relatively inexpensive units and running costs. They're supposed to be cleaned every year, so one way that we economise is to do that ourselves. Or rather, I do it. This year, I decided to clean our air conditioners on June 1st.  Sometimes people ask me how to go about it, so here for your erudition is a photo-guide:

1. Open up the units to reveal the filters. Usually, that just means pulling gently at the cover, and lifting it, like this (in our dining room): 

Under the cover should be some kind of filter. This photo doesn't really show clearly how very dusty they were after a winter without use - but does at least show the filters:

Each kind of air conditioner is a bit different - this is the one in my study, which had even dustier looking filters:

2.  Remove the filters. That's easy enough - just lift and pull out. Take them to a convenient sink. 

3. Rinse the filters under running water to remove most of the obvious dust: 

4. Spray the filters lightly all over with special anti-fungal air conditioner spray. It really does have to be this stuff, although you don't want to breathe it in. Hence why I use an outdoor sink. 

You can buy the spray at DIY shops, hardware stores, and bigger supermarkets.  It costs around ten euros - and each container lasts us about two years. That's much better value than paying, probably, around 25 euro per unit for a service... 

5. Leave the filters for ten minutes or so, during which time you can dust the units behind where the filters go. A feather duster is useful, but a paintbrush can work too. Just swish it around to remove any obvious dust.

6.  Now, spray the units themselves, behind where the filters were. This is the bit I found a bit worrying at first - I don't like spraying any fluid inside electrical appliances. But it's necessary, so that mould and other nasties don't grow during the humid conditions during the summer: 

Note that some air conditioning units might not open up - the one in our living room has filters that have to be slid down like this to remove them:

7. Take the sprayed filters, and rinse them again in plenty of water to remove the spray and any remaining dust and grime. Leave them to dry. 

8. Return them to the units, then switch on for a few minutes, to make sure that all is working as it should, and to blow the spray through, along with any remaining dust. 

We have eleven units in all. I didn't do our guest flat ones - those will have to wait. And I didn't do the one in Tim's room, since (a) it's oddly difficult to open - much more so than any of the others - and (b) he's not planning to come to Cyprus at all this Summer. But still, six of our air condtioning units are now clean and, I hope, ready for the onslaught of summer. 

NB: I find it a good idea to keep as many windows open as possible during this process as the smell of the spray is quite strong - and it's another reason for doing the cleaning BEFORE actually needing to use the air conditioning! 

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