Weekend Project: Straighten the fin combs on your air conditioner

    Consumer Reports News: May 19, 2010 03:09 PM

    Don't damage the fins when cleaning your A/C.
    While you can do some basic things to keep a central-air-conditioning system in good working order, we recommend you get a professional tune-up—with or without these financial incentives—each cooling season.

    But a bit of basic DIY maintenance will help window- and wall-mounted air conditioners run more effectively and efficiently, extending their service life and saving you money on summertime utility bills. (Here are some other ways to cut your cooling bills this year.)

    One of the maintenance steps involves cleaning the soft-metal fin combs on your air conditioner using a vacuum (shown), soft brush, or can of compressed air. Be careful not to damage the fins; bent fins will render the exchange of heat less efficient.

    Fortunately, fixing bent combs is a quick, easy weekend project. (We thought you'd appreciate one of those.) All you need is a fin comb (photo 1 below), which you can buy online or at an HVAC-supply shop for $8 to $20. Choose a model with several sets of different-size teeth. Match the teeth to the spacing of the fins on your air conditioner, then draw the comb slowly and carefully over the fins (photo 2 below). Refer to your owner's manual for any model-specific advice.

    Essential information:
    If you're in the market for a new air conditioner, use our sizing calculator and A/C buyer's guide for the cash for appliances rebate program. Also, see our ratings of room air conditioners, test results of portable units and split-ductless systems, and brand-repair history for central-air-conditioning systems (all available to subscribers).

    Fin Combs for Air Conditioners

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