Preparing Your Air Conditioning Unit for Winter

Your home’s heating and cooling systems require year-round maintenance to keep them in good working order. Once the furnace starts up it’s all too easy to forget about the air conditioning unit that kept you comfortable all summer long. But if you want your A/C unit to spring back to life next year, you need to give it some attention this fall. There are some to-dos that require the help of a trained professional, but some tasks you can do yourself to get your air conditioner ready for its winter hibernation. Follow these simple steps to help prevent costly damage that can be brought on by the cold and snow.

Turn it Off

There should be a small box mounted on the exterior of your house near your A/C unit. This power circuit is what sends power to your unit. Simply flip the switch to off. This will keep you safe from electrical shock while you complete your other maintenance items but also ensures that the unit won’t turn on unintentionally on a warm winter day. If the A/C unit turns on and off during the winter it could create moisture in the unit that will likely freeze and cause damage.

Clean it Up

Clear any debris from the unit like twigs and leaves using a broom. Sweep debris away from the area around the A/C unit as well. Wash off any dirt, droppings and dust that are stuck to the exterior. It’s a good idea to clean your unit, not just in the fall, but throughout the year to keep it from getting clogged during use.

Check it Out

Inspect your air conditioner for rust or cracks in the casing and broken or split seals. Check for leaks and make sure all seals are tight. If you find any issues or irregularities, you may need to call in a professional to inspect and correct the issue if you’re not comfortable with doing HVAC maintenance yourself.

Cover it Up

You might be surprised to learn that covering your A/C unit is a hotly debated topic. Covering your A/C unit with a waterproof cover will help to insulate it, protecting it from the elements and debris. Some homeowners will DIY this cover by securing a waterproof tarp with bungee cords or rope so that it will stay in place over the winter. However, covering your unit this way can create problems with air flow, trap moisture in and potentially make a nice cozy space for rodents and other small animals to bunker down for the winter. Make sure your unit is cleaned and dry before covering and use a cover specifically designed for air conditioners. A/C unit covers are created to allow for airflow and ventilation while still keeping out debris. Make sure you take your cover off well before you need to turn on your unit in the spring. This will give it time to air out and allow you to test and inspect the unit before it’s needed.

Insulate it

Pipe Insulation

Foam pipe covers do an excellent job of insulating any exposed wiring and pipes over the winter. Pay particular attention to wrapping any pipes or wires that enter your home. You can secure the foam covers with duct tape. This will keep the fluid in the pipes from freezing and expanding which could damage your pipes over winter.

Making the time to tend to your air conditioning unit now will save you money and stress in the long run. Regular maintenance will extend its life, help it run more efficiently and decrease the chances of it needing major repairs. Consider having your A/C unit regularly serviced like you would your furnace. Over the winter months continue to clear debris, snow and leaves from on and around your unit.