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Removing An Old Central Air Conditioner: Steps You Can Do Before The Technician Arrives

Most homeowners prefer to have an HVAC contractor remove an old central air unit. However, if you would like to save some money on labor costs, you can remove parts of the old unit yourself. Here are some steps you can safely complete without needing an HVAC education or license.

1. Cut the Power and Pull the Fuses

There is always a circuit breaker that controls the "on" switch to the air conditioner. Find the breaker in your fuse box that is marked for the air conditioner and turn it off. Leave it off until the technician tells you to turn it back on. Then go outside and find the fuse box for the condenser. It is almost always located on the side of the house right behind your condenser box. Open the box and look for the pull handle marked "fuses" and "pull to disconnect." Now all the power is cut to the air conditioner's indoor and outdoor components and it is safe for anyone to work on.

2. Remove the Exterior Box of the Condenser 

The exterior box of the condenser is the casing and some filters. This typically has some screws and bolts to hold it on and in place, so look for the screws/bolts and undo them. Then carefully lift the casing/box off of the unit. You can invert this and set it aside once you have removed it.

3. Remove the Circulation Fan

Most condensers have a circulation fan for blowing out hot air and/or pulling in cooler air. This should be fairly easy to remove too. The blades may be very sharp or rusty from years in the outdoor weather, so be very careful when removing them. Tetanus with its accompanying shots is not something you want to pay for after trying to save money by taking apart the air conditioner.

4. Leave the Evaporator, the Condenser Motor, the Refrigeration Unit and the Electrical Wiring for the Technician

Unless you have intermediate electrical skills, leave the electrical wiring alone. Since your new air conditioner may be able to reuse the cables and wiring, that is another good reason to leave these components alone. The evaporator, the condenser motor and the refrigeration unit should not be handled or removed by you because these are government-regulated parts that can only be removed safely by a licensed HVAC technician/contractor. Therefore, leave these parts for the technician to remove.