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Rheem HVAC Condenser Coils Cleaning Guide
How to safely clean and maintain the condenser coils on a Rheem Classic outside A/C unit for max cooling efficiency.

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Please note, I am not a professional HVAC technician. This guide is for illustrative purposes only and I assume no responsibility for damage or injury to your persons, property, or pets. If you have any doubts, please do not proceed and consult with a certified A/C repair company or your air conditioner's manufacturer.
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Turn Off Thermostat
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Rheem Classic Condenser
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Power Supply - Fuse Block

This home maintenance "how-to" guide was specifically written to assist owners of the Rheem Classic HVAC condenser unit in cleaning the coils for maximum cooling and energy efficiency.

Owners of other A/C systems with similar outside condenser units such as Trane, GE (General Electric), LG, Lennox, Amana, American Standard, Arco, Carrier, Goodman, Bryant, Luxaire, York, Kenmore, Frigidaire, Goldstar, Maytag, and Whirlpool may also find this guide to be useful.

Since "winter" in South Florida is coming to an end, I decided it was time to clean out the coils in the outdoor condenser unit of our Rheem air conditioning system before summer arrives.

The items needed to complete this procedure include a screw driver, a cleaning brush, a wet/dry shop vacuum, a garden hose, dishwashing detergent, and a sprayer bottle.

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Block Shutoff Switch
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Power Block Removed
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Inside Breakers Turned Off
The first steps are to turn off the air conditioning system at the thermostat, turn off the circuit breaker(s) for the A/C system inside the house, and pull out the large block or "handle" shutoff switch located inside the power supply box near the condenser. Your system may instead be equipped with a common circuit breaker switch outside to locally disconnect power to the condenser. (Just in case, I also flipped the inside air handler's circuit breaker to "off".)
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Smaller Condenser Cover
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Capacitor & Compressor
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Coils Clogged With Debris
Next, I removed the screws holding the smaller metal cover that protects the capacitor, the compressor, and one side of the square shaped condenser. Since there isn't much air flow in this area due to the sealed cover, it was the dirtiest section of our condenser. The coils were clogged with a grey carpet of dust, dirt, pet hair, lint and other debris.
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Lint, Dust, Dirt & Pet Hair
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Soft Bristle Cleaning Brush
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Gently Brush Out Debris
Before you get anything wet, it's best to carefully vacuum out the coils with a wet/dry shop vacuum or brush them out with a soft bristle brush. Try to avoid flattening or crushing any of the aluminum fins as this will reduce their efficiency.
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Remove Fan Case Screws
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Flathead Screwdriver
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Final Screw Near Capacitor
Once I had that side of the condenser's coils cleaned, I removed the screws holding the fan motor and top cover in place. (Make a mental note of which screws came from where. You don't want to insert a long screw in somewhere that originally had a short screw and risk puncturing the coils.) Lift up the top cover of the condenser and carefully rest it somewhere safe or have someone hold it. Be sure to not stress the wires leading to the fan motor or any other connections.
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Lift Fan Up & Vacuum
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Rigid Wet/Dry Shop Vac
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Leaves & Debris Removed
I used a Rigid 5HP wet/dry shop vacuum to get all of the leaves, twigs, mummified lizards, grass clippings, and dirt out of the inside of the condenser unit.
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Mix Detergent & Water
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Soap & Water Spray Bottle
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Gently Brush Out Fins
The fins inside the condenser looked relatively clean, so I just gently ran the brush over them a few times to dislodge any stubborn particles. Then I prepared a solution of dishwashing soap and water in an old sprayer bottle.
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Outer Fins Already Clean
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Saturate Fins With Solution
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Finish Brushing Out Coils
I saturated the coils inside the condenser with the soapy solution and sprayed some of it all around the rest of the outside of the unit including the exposed side near the compressor. The outer side of the coils on the condenser looked very clean, so I didn't bother removing the rest of the metal case protecting them.
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Garden Sprayer On Shower
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Rinse Off Outside Cover
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Inner Coils Cleaned
After letting the soapy solution sit for a few minutes, I rinsed off the coils with the garden hose sprayer set to the low pressure "shower" setting. Using higher pressure settings on your sprayer head or a pressure washer may flatten the coils and reduce the condenser's efficiency. Thoroughly soak every area of the coils with water and repeat the process several times to ensure that most of the debris or dust is flushed out.
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Dirt & Dust Removed
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Coils Rinsed Off
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Lower Fan & Top Cover
As I mentioned, the outside of the coils looked clean, so I didn't bother taking off the rest of the condenser's metal case to access them. But I did pull the metal cover back and spray the outside coils as best I could. The area I spent the most time cleaning was the coils on the capacitor/compressor side of the condenser that were completely caked with debris. You can see the dramatic difference between before and after cleaning in Picture # 9 and Picture # 28.
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Small Cover Replaced
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60 Amp Circuit
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Replace Handle/Block
To complete the job, I carefully lowered the top cover and fan back over the condenser's case and re-inserted the screws. The top of the case was secured with relatively short screws that can't puncture or damage the condenser coils. Don't forget the one screw that holds the top of the case to the small metal box that houses the capacitor. Then replace the smaller panel of the case that protects the compressor, capacitor, and one side of the coils. This panel was held in place by two slightly longer flat head screws.
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Local Connection Restored
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Turn On Circuit Breakers
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Air Handler Circuit Breaker
Then I re-inserted the block switch or "handle" piece back into the outside power circuit box, flipped on the A/C breakers inside the house, and turned on the air handler unit's breaker. Finally, I switched the digital thermostat to "cool" and 70 degrees Fahrenheit to test they HVAC system. I heard the fan and compressor outside turn on before cool air starting blowing out of the vents or "registers" inside the house. If your system doesn't turn on, double check all the fuses, circuit blocks, breakers and the thermostat.

If you'd also like to clean the coils on your inside A/C unit, click here - HVAC Air Handler Coils Cleaning Guide.
 

For more of my related how-to guides, click on the following links: Rheem AC Condenser Run Capacitor Replacement Guide, Freezer Icemaker Replacement Guide, Bathtub/Shower Water Diverter Valve, HVAC Air Handler Coils Cleaning Guide, Home Water Heater Sediment Flushing Guide, Culligan US-600A Under Sink Water Filter Installation Guide, Laptop to HDTV Via CAT6 HDMI Extender, Home Clothing Dryer Exhaust Vent Lint Cleaning Guide, Kitchen Sink Drain Water Leak Repair Guide, Culligan Icemaker Water Filter Installation Guide, Culligan IC-EZ-1 Drinking Water Filter Installation Guide, Honda EU3000is Generator Maintenanc Guide, How To Fix A Sticky Door Lock, Hunter Just Right Digital Thermostat Installation, GE A/C Condenser Run/Start Capacitor Replacement Guide, Refrigerator Water Leak & Clogged Defrost Drain Repair Guide, Toilet Water Supply Valve Leak Repair Guide Kenmore Oven/Range 220V Power Supply Restoration Guide, Carpenter Bee Insect Pest Control Guide, and TiVo Hard Drive Upgrade Guide.
 
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