The AC in your vehicle or home is one of the most important systems to keep working properly. Summers are getting hotter, and the AC is a household item that you just can’t live without.
When it starts to break down or fail, you’ll know it by the way that your car or house heats up during the summer. Nobody wants to be in that situation.
You might not think about it, but there’s a lot of cleaning and maintenance that goes into keeping your AC unit running well.
Your AC unit needs to be flushed every couple of years so that any dirt and debris gets removed from inside the lines before they get clogged up with gunk and start causing problems like leaks or other malfunctions.
By doing this you will avoid a costly bill at the end of the month for a technician or worse… replacing the whole unit. Flushing your AC may seem a bit daunting but if you follow these steps, you can become an expert in the field!
Keep reading to discover how alcohol can flush out for AC unit.
There may be affiliate links in this article. You can read more about this in my disclosure.
What causes your AC to stop working?
There are of course many reasons why your AC unit has stopped working. It of course can be a mechanical issue, in which case, you should call a mechanic and get professional help.
However, usually AC units will break down for the following reasons:
You may be using the wrong type of oil
The wrong type of oil can cause problems with your compressor, especially if it’s an older unit.
A good rule of thumb is to always use the recommended brand and grade recommended by your manufacturer or a licensed technician. If you’re not sure what kind of oil is best for your unit, ask a professional!
If you’re sure the oil is correct, then maybe it may be one of the next points.
Mold, bacteria, and insects have gotten into it
These little guys love to live inside air conditioning units because they get nice and cool there!
If they’ve taken up residence in yours, you’ll want to get rid of them ASAP before they make themselves at home too much longer. Mold and bacteria can also be a huge issue are the AC unit will release the particles in the air, and you do not want to be breathing them in.
Dust, dirt and debris has accumulated over time causing corrosion on some components and in time will affect your AC’s performance.
How to AC units work?
There are three main parts of a typical AC unit:
- The compressor is the part that changes the gas to liquid, which makes it easier to transfer heat.
- The condenser is the part where this heat exchange happens. This can be outside or inside your home depending on what type of unit you have and how it’s set up—the refrigerant goes through coils in this section, giving off its heat energy as it cools down.
- The evaporator then takes in this cooled down liquid and converts it back into a gas. This process creates cold air for your home or office!
To follow this guide, you must know how to identify each of these 3 parts. Please check your manufacturing manual if you are not sure.
Why is alcohol good to clean your AC machine?
Alcohol is a safe and effective solvent. It evaporates quickly, leaving no residue; this means that when you use alcohol as a cleaning agent for your air conditioner, it won’t leave behind any sticky buildup on the parts of the machine.
Alcohol also has antibacterial properties (in fact, it’s one of the main ingredients in hand sanitizers), so it can kill bacteria on contact and prevent mold from growing in your AC system.
What do I need to flush my AC?
You will need:
- A bucket or container that can hold at least 1 gallon of liquid.
- Alcohol (preferably denatured alcohol).
- Gloves to protect your hands from any contaminants in the system.
- The correct tools for the job: screwdriver and/or socket wrench for removing condenser drain plug (if applicable), pliers, funnel for draining dirty water into bucket.
How to prepare yourself for flushing your AC?
Before you do the process, it’s important to take precautionary measures. These include:
- Wearing protective clothes like a long-sleeved shirt and pants. It’s also helpful to wear gloves and safety goggles.
- Flushing your AC in a well-ventilated area with windows open as much as possible.
- You can put some protective sheets on the floor around your unit, in case of any spillage.
Right, let’s get straight into it. To explain the process simply, the idea is to flush the system using alcohol and compressed air.
This will flush out any dirt, debris, mold or bacteria. This is a deep cleaning method that you can do roughly once a year to keep your unit functioning in optimal conditions.
Empty the refrigerant
Let’s start by emptying the refrigerant in your unit. This will free up space to do the flush.
This liquid is used to turn the hot outside air into cool air, pumped into your room. Find the refrigerant’s low-pressure side, and the compressor’s suction side (on the condensing unit).
You need to connect both sides together. The next step is to block the service valve on the low-pressure side of the condensing unit we’ve just mentioned.
You can use a hex key for this step if needed. Now you need to partially close the service valve of the high-pressure side and engage the compressor.
Allow the valve to empty and cover once it gets into vacuum. Although these steps are not complicated, we do not recommend doing them if you’re not 100% sure of what you’re doing.
You can cause more damage to the compressor if you do not do these steps correctly. Please check your instruction manual first or contact a professional in case you have any doubts.
You need to disconnect all pipes from the parts you wish to flush. The orifice tube must be disconnected, just next to the liquid line or the evaporator.
You can also disconnect any tubes that will get in your way. Just remember which one goes where, for when you must reconnect them.
Top tip: take a photo of your unit before working on it. So, you can remember where everything goes!
Flush your condenser
Here we go, we’re ready to start flushing the unit. Locate the high side inlet on your condenser first.
This is where you need to put your alcohol. Take it nice and slow to make sure you don’t spill the alcohol everywhere and make a mess.
You can use a funnel if you wish. Make sure you have a mop or a rag at hand, in case it does spill out.
Once the alcohol is placed in the condenser, apply compressed air. This will flush the system through. Repeat the process until no dirt of dust is left.
To make sure you can every little piece of debris, try back flushing your system too. Think of it as a second clean, just to make sure you’ve got everything out.
To do so, flush from the inlet to the outlet, then vice versa.
Flush your evaporator
Once you’ve finished with the condenser, you can move onto the evaporator. You essentially need to follow the same steps and mentioned above but apply them to the evaporator.
Add alcohol using a funnel, and flush out with compressed air. You can also backflush this part too for extra cleaning.
Replace everything where it was
Make the most of this process to check the parts you remove for any damage. Make sure that everything is dry before returning the parts to where they originally were.
You will need to use lubricant to replace the parts, don’t go overboard though. Too much can damage your unit.
Now comes to moment of truth, once everything is reconnected, switch your AC unit back on and check if it is working. If it still doesn’t work, you have a bigger issue.
We would recommend calling a professional to do a full check up on the machine.
We hope that this article has helped you learn how to flush your AC with alcohol. It’s a simple process that is easy to do and will keep your AC running smoothly for years.
By doing this technique every year you will save costly repair services and will make your unit last for much longer.
Last update on 2023-06-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API