Average temperatures are rising in the United States, and that means air conditioners have to work harder than ever. To ensure your air conditioner is functioning at full capacity, you need to keep your condenser clean and service its parts. Surprisingly, you can do some of that process on your own. Here are a few tips to help you.

1. Choose a Warm Day

Cleaning your condenser should help your entire air conditioning system to work better, but after cleaning, you should check that everything works well. To make sure that you can turn on the system, you should choose a relatively warm day to clean your condenser. Otherwise, it may end up being impossible to turn on your air conditioner when you're done.

2. Turn Off the Power

The outside condenser houses the compressor, cooling fins, tubes, and fans. To protect yourself from these moving parts, you need to turn off the power. Your outdoor condenser may be connected to an outlet in which case you simply need to unplug it. In other cases, you need to turn off the breaker to that area.

3. Vacuum the Top

Before removing the top of the condenser unit, run your vacuum over this area. For best results, use a brush attachment. This helps to ensure that all the debris that has built up on top of your condenser doesn't fall inside when you remove the lid.

4. Locate the Condenser Fins

The condenser fins are blades inside the condenser that suck in outside air, and they tend to get gummed up with dust, leaves, insects, and other items. Usually, the fins are located near the top of the unit, and you should be able to access them by removing the cover to the condenser. Be careful around the blades because they tend to be sharp.

In most cases, you can lift out the whole fan. While doing that, pay attention to the wires to ensure that you don't pull or rip them. Once the fan is out, vacuum off loose debris. Then, use a wet cloth to gently clean the rest of the blades.

Spin the fan to see how it works. If any of the blades are hitting each other, they may be bent. Luckily, you can carefully straighten them with a butter knife.

5. Lubricate the Motor

As part of the cleaning process, you should also lubricate the motor. Note that some contemporary air conditioner motors are designed so that they can't be lubricated, but you can check in your owner's manual to find out for sure.

If your system can be lubricated, locate the ports. Then, put a few drops of oil in them. Don't use all-purpose motor oil. Instead, make sure that you get motor oil that is designed for continuous, long-term use in appliances.

6. Turn Back on the Power Carefully

Condensers are relatively fragile, and you need to be careful when you turn them back on. Before turning the power back on, turn off your thermostat inside the house. Then, turn on the unit and let it sit for a day before testing it. Some air conditioning systems have internal controls which cycle on the unit slowly so you don't need to take these steps. However, if you're not sure what your AC has, you should follow these steps to be on the safe side.

7. Contact a Professional

Although you can service the condenser on your own, you may want to contact an air conditioning repair company. They understand different types of units and their unique needs. They can also look for any additional repair issues and provide help as needed.