How to Clean Your Air Conditioner of Cottonwood and Dirt

By: Brian Schutt  |  September 5, 2015
Updated on 07/01/2019

It’s that annual shedding of the Eastern Cottonwood trees, with small cotton-like balls floating whimsically in the air across the state. These trees grow throughout the eastern U.S., showcasing their diamond-shaped leaves and thick bark. And standing 65-130 feet, Eastern Cottonwoods are one of the tallest hardwood trees in all of North America.

What does this hardwood lesson mean for you?

It means your air conditioner is now at risk. It means it’s time again to start checking and rechecking the exterior of your AC unit to remove any collected cottonwood balls.

carrier unit | Homesense

Why It’s Important to Protect Your AC from Cottonwood

Because it blows around so easily, it can also get entangled very easily. The condenser coils run on the exterior of your air conditioner, and the cottonwood limits air flow across those coils. The primary issue will be a drop in efficiency and cooling capacity of the system. The far worse issue is that it can lead to the mechanical components like the compressor to overheat, and cause the system to fail. You don’t want that to happen, and we don’t want to take that call.

In this brief video, Homesense owner Brian Schutt walks through the steps to clean your air conditioner of cottonwood and dirt.

To Recap

If your system looks anything like this, the process is fairly simple to fix.

1) Shut your system off

2) Get regular hose (not power washer).

3) Spray system exterior from top to bottom, washing the cottonwood to the bottom of system.

4) Turn system on.


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