Learn how to clear and preserve a PTAC air conditioner

The average PTAC (Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner) will last seven years, but with regular maintenance a PTAC can last over ten years!

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In addition to extending the life of your PTAC system, regular cleaning and maintenance will maintain the energy efficiency and performance of the device. A clean device ensures optimal indoor air quality and reduces the need for frequent, expensive repairs. Concerned about the cost and hassle of maintaining a PTAC? Often times, compared to other AC systems, PTACs require less time and money to maintain, and you can get them with a few simple steps.

Monthly maintenance

Cleaning your PTAC unit monthly is not as hassle as it sounds. You can get it done in under 30 minutes and your system will run smoothly for years.

Perform your monthly maintenance:

1. Clean the air filters

Your PTAC improves air quality by using filters to trap debris and allergens in the air. This useful function makes it easier to breathe and the health of your indoor air, especially if you have allergies or respiratory diseases. Because air filters work non-stop, they quickly collect debris, resulting in decreased performance and air quality. To clean the filters, pull them out of the front panel of the device. Be careful when removing the filters to avoid some of the accumulated dirt falling back into the unit. Once the filters have failed, rinse the dirt off with running water.

After cleaning, let the filters air out before putting them back into the AC unit. If you can't wait for the filters to dry, use a vacuum cleaner to clean them instead of running water. If the filter is cracked, you need to replace it. Filters with holes are of little use to you at all.

2. Clean the breather screen

Vent screens prevent harmful objects from entering the AC unit. The screen builds up dirt quickly because air is constantly flowing through the screen. If you leave it dirty, it will pollute the clean air of the AC filter before it reaches the room. Since cleaning the breather screen requires touching parts of the PTAC unit, unplug the power cord before working on it. Otherwise, an electrical accident may occur. After unplugging the power cord, remove the front of the AC case according to the system manual. For most hotel-style PTAC devices, all you have to do is pull on the bottom of the front and then lift to remove the cover. Other constructions may require loosening screws. The housing of the AC is located behind the housing cover. Loosen the screws on the housing and remove them from the wall sleeve to gain access to the ventilation screen. You can then clean the screen with a vacuum cleaner or duster. After cleaning, reassemble the device and connect the system.

3. Cleaning the cabinet front

The cabinet front, which we removed earlier to reach the vent screen, also needs to be cleaned. Wipe it with a damp cloth to remove any accumulated dust. Also clean the exhaust grille and all other visible surfaces. For safety reasons, pull the power plug out of the socket before cleaning and make sure that the water does not touch any of the electrical components of the device.

Also, avoid using strong detergents or ammonia based cleaners on your AC power device. Such cleaning products contain compounds that can damage the components of your PTAC.

Yearly maintenance

Annual PTAC maintenance is more thorough than regular monthly maintenance. It includes an inspection and thorough cleaning of the device. If you are in an area with high levels of air pollution, we recommend using a quarterly, rather than yearly, PTAC deep cleaning service. Quarterly maintenance is also advisable if you are using PTACs in a healthcare facility. Without frequent thorough cleaning, the system cannot maintain optimal air quality to aid patient recovery. While you can do the annual maintenance yourself, it is advisable to have it done by a professional. Heavy lifting may be required and a PTAC maintenance professional will have the training and tools to do the job properly.

While specific maintenance requirements vary between different PTAC models, deep cleaning generally includes:

  1. Clean or replace the air filter
  2. Clean the wall sleeve and check the seal to make sure it is still weatherproof
  3. Check the capacitor coil for damage and clean it, which will require disassembling most of the device
  4. Identify and replace worn components
  5. Inspect the thermostat and other controls on the PTAC unit
  6. Clean the floor pan to prevent water leakage
  7. Disinfect the device to prevent mold and other bacteria and fungi from growing
  8. Check the refrigerant level and make sure there are no leaks
  9. Perform a release test to ensure the system is still energy efficient and is performing safely


Maintaining a clean PTAC can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. With that in mind, don't neglect your monthly cleanings. For annual cleaning, hire a licensed professional for the job. Before hiring a PTAC maintenance professional, make sure the technician is experienced in cleaning your specific AC model. If your technician doesn't know the specific needs of your PTAC, it can do more harm than good. The technician should also be able to advise you on how to improve the performance of your AC and extend its life.

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