How to Clean Your Air Conditioner After Ashfall

The intense unrest of the Taal Volcano has left Manila and other parts of CALABARZON area covered in ashfall. As the dust settles, literally, experts strongly advise great caution when cleaning up. The tiny ash particles can trigger allergies, respiratory problems, and skin irritation.

One of the items you need to pay special attention to when cleaning is your air conditioning unit. You want to make sure that the cool air that blows through your rooms is clean and safe. Here are some reminders when cleaning your AC after an ashfall:

Wear Protective Gear

Before anything else, put on your mask. Safety first. You can use the typical surgical mask with a padding of some wet wipes or a damp cloth. But if you really want to be sure that you won’t inhale or ingest dust particles, get the N95 mask. They do a great job of filtering fine materials. Protect your eyes, too. Use safety goggles, as they offer a sealed shield around the eye area to protect you from particles coming from any direction. As a preventive measure for skin irritation, wear a long-sleeved top, pants, and a pair of gloves.

Use the Right Tool

It’s best to use a vacuum cleaner to remove ash from your AC. This tool can take out particles from access panels and their filters. If done right, your cleaner can also suck out the debris in evaporator coils, pipes, and fans. Do this every two to three months to ensure better air quality indoors. Keep in mind, however, that filters need to be replaced according to packaging guidelines. Most of them can only be used for three months. If yours hasn’t been changed recently, consider buying a new one to make sure your system isn’t recycling dirt or worse, ash, in your space.

Wash the Outdoor Unit

If you’re using a split-type AC, it’s crucial that you also clean the outdoor unit. Ashes on the surface can circulate in your room when you turn the system on. The best way to clean it is to splash some water on the area. Do this with great caution, steering clear from the coils and circuit boards to avoid electrical faults. If you’re not sure how to go about this, it’s best to call a professional. This way, you can have a full-system inspection before using the AC again.

Scrub Your Space

Remember, your AC picks up and cools the air already present indoors. If your room isn’t clean to begin with, there’s no use cleaning your AC alone. In the same way that you’re meticulous about making your unit free of ash debris, be serious about cleaning the actual home, too. Chances are, you’ll find layers of ash after doing a thorough sweep of your floors and a good scrub of window sills and entrances. 

Start the cleanup from your top floor, going down. Open doors and windows to get good ventilation while cleaning. To keep dust particles from going up into the air again, use damp rags or cloths and avoid sweepers with side brushes. Keep the dust particles in industrial bags and toss them out immediately.

Close Gaps and Entrances at Home

Your clean-up efforts will go to waste if the remaining ash particles outside your home will enter through the tiny nooks of your windows. Your AC will recycle ash-filled air at home. That’s why it’s important to close entry points and seal them up, at least for the first few weeks after the ashfall. You can use duct tape in securing these gaps.

Doors are also a possible entry area for ash particles. But you can’t avoid using them as you go to work or do errands. The best thing to do is to limit the number of entrances opened in your home. If you can stick to the front door being the main access area, better. With this, you can reduce the amount of ash going into your space. Change clothes as soon as you get home. You may have caught dust particles while on the road. You don’t want to carry that further inside the rooms, right?

Remember, tiny ash fragments may cause health problems. Pay close attention to how you do your clean-up, especially in your cooling appliances. At the same time, don’t neglect your actual home. There’s no use in having a clean unit when your space circulates unsafe air. 

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