How does the old song go? “In the summertime, when the weather is hot, you can reach right out and touch the sky, in the summertime, you got women, you got women on your mind. “

And while that’s true, it also comes with a healthy dose of brutal humidity. It comes with a great deal of careful preparation. Entertaining a date, party guests or just plain hanging out will require the service of an air conditioner. No mother, who could not afford such a device, dreaded the words, “I’m hanging over at Timmy’s. His mom has an air conditioner.” This much-coveted device, believe it or not, reaches back to the years B.C., when ancient Egyptians used to moisten reeds with trickling water near the open windows of their kingdoms and feast upon grapes.

But what to do when one breaks down? It’s like that episode of The SImpsons in which Lisa becomes the most popular girl in town thanks to her new pool that invited locals to gather and bathe in coolness. Until it collapses on their own weight, of course, and one of the bullies says, “I hear there’s an even dorkier kid with an even bigger pool.” And she’s left, lonesome. You don’t want to be Lisa Simpson, you want your house to breathe throughout even the worst of heat and, if you believe the Democrats, it ain’t getting better anytime soon.

It’s best to know how to repair an air conditioner that’s on the fritz. One of the most common problems is a moldy build up. Fix it before the nerdier kid does. Here’s how to clean mold from air conditioners:

1. Finding Mold

Sure, you may smell a mysterious, mold-like smell coming from somewhere in your home, but you must be sure it’s from your air conditioner unit first and foremost. It can be located elsewhere as well; under sinks, toilets, other areas you may suspect it’s coming from. But once you’ve identified it in your AC unit, it’s time to get to work and clean the mold from your air conditioner.

2. Safety Gear

Mold is a serious health hazard, and exposure can lead to serious health issues both for you, your guests and loved ones. It also has a nasty habit of building up around unused units, so when the season’s over, it’s best to remove it.

While removing a moldy build-up from your system, you’re going to want to wear certain protective gear. If you start wheezing, you know you didn’t prepare well enough. Naturally, you’ll want to protect your face first – safety goggles, a face mask and gloves are mandatory. When it comes to the actual cleaning, laundry detergent, bleach and mild dish soap are also key. No one is suggesting you need a hazmat suit (yet), just basic protective wear for when you dive underneath your machine.

3. Immediately Shut Off AC

Sure, this may seem like an obvious step on how to clean air conditioners. After all, no one wants to work under a giant, electrified box, particularly with a wet towel or brush, but it’s an important reminder that you are going to have to sweat the heat for a little while.

4. Determine the Extent of the Problem

A lot of this can be done via scent, but getting a good look at the build up in your system will let you gauge the amount of cleaning necessary to make the air breathable once again. Most front grills of AC units snap off with fair ease, though some have screws that must be removed. Once inside, you’ll be able to check the filter. Grab a flashlight and get a good look at the damage.

Mold growth can appear in streaks or clusters of brown, black or green. The most common AC mold – Mildew – will show itself off as a powdery gray stain. Iff you’re lucky, you’ll see these few and far between, easy to scrub away. But if they cover more than two-thirds of the area, it may be time to rethink cleaning and checking your bank account to purchase an entirely new unit.

5. Check User Manuals

Don’t just go about spraying bleach and a hose all over the unit – this can cause further damage and your name is not Bob Villa. Most people keep such manuals on file and they should, as there are clear instructions in each for how to approach a mold build up.

6. Vacuum

Before you start with brushing away at a mold with bleach, soap and a sturdy hand, you’re going to want to clear away that which is not with a simple vacuum. From there the process is fairly simple. Brush it out, clean it up or buy a new one. Then go back to hosting parties where the only mold in the house is on the cheese served with wine.