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Do You Prep Your Outdoor Air Conditioning Unit for Winter?

air conditioner in winterHeating and cooling units require year-round maintenance to keep them operating smoothly and efficiently. While some tasks require the help of an HVAC professional, there are many that you can do on your own to prolong the life of your system. As you start preparing your home for the winter months, include air conditioner maintenance tasks to prevent costly damage that cold weather, snow, ice or oxidation may cause.

Winter Air Conditioner Maintenance Steps

  1. Turn off the power to your A/C unit. The exterior power circuit is in a small box mounted to the side of your home. Simply lift the metal or plastic cover to find the switch, which might be red. Flip the switch to the “Off” position and close the lid. Turning off the A/C prevents the risk of electrocution as you perform maintenance tasks. It keeps the A/C from turning on during an unseasonable warm day, as well as keep out water that could freeze and damage the condensing unit.
  2. Clean the A/C unit. Use a broom to sweep off leaves, twigs and other debris on and surrounding the A/C. Then use a hose to wash off dirt, dust and bird droppings. Then allow the unit to dry. Cleaning the air conditioner prevents it from getting clogged and breaking down when you use it during the spring and summer.
  3. Inspect the A/C unit. Look for cracks and rust in the casing, as well as leaks and other irregularities. Make sure the seals are tight and not cracked. While these issues may seem benign, they may cause major problems in the future. If you find any of these issues during your air conditioner maintenance, contact a licensed HVAC contractor, such as AAA heating and cooling.
  4. Cover the A/C unit. Placing a waterproof vinyl or plastic cover over an air conditioner insulates it, prevents cracking, and protects it from debris and the elements. You can find covers made specifically for air conditioners at home improvement stores. Alternatively, you may secure a waterproof tarp around the unit using bungee cords or ropes so it doesn’t blow away when there are strong winds.
  5. Add extra insulation. Use foam pipe covers around the A/C unit’s exposed pipes and wiring, particularly those that go into your home. Use duct tape to keep the foam insulation in place. The insulation keeps wires and the fluid within pipes from freezing, which keeps the pipes from cracking.
  6. Check the air conditioner once a week. Continue to perform air conditioner maintenance through the fall and winter by sweeping away leaves, twigs, pinecones and other debris that fall on the unit. In addition, remove water, snow and ice that accumulate on the A/C’s cover to free it of unnecessary (and potentially damaging) weight.

Air conditioner maintenance is more than a yearly task in which an HVAC professional services your system. Regularly maintaining your A/C will extend its life, increase its efficiency and minimize the need for repairs. If you notice an irregularity in your air conditioner, contact AAA Heating and Cooling to complete a repair while the weather is still cool. Doing so will ensure that your system is ready to go when the weather warms.