5 Steps to Protect Your AC Unit From The Winter
Posted on: October 16, 2014 | by: Will Housh
With the summer months coming to a close, it’s time to properly prepare for the cooler winter months ahead. While often overlooked, this preparation begins with winterizing your air conditioning unit. It takes only a little bit of time and could save you hundreds to thousands of dollars down the road.
Here is a simple checklist of five things to do as fall approaches and the weather begins to cool off:
1. Turn off exterior power to the air conditioning unit
Central air conditioning units generally have exterior circuits that control the power that runs to the unit itself. To turn off power to the unit, open the box that is fastened to the side of the house near the unit and look for a red circuit handle. Next, pull the circuit out, flip it upside down and reinsert it into the slot. Close the lid of the box.
Doing this will prevent damage to the unit or electrocution when working with the unit. It also prevents the unit being accidentally turned on during the winter. If it is turned on, the unit will use water to create the cool air. If this water is exposed to freezing temperatures, it can damage your condensing unit within the A/C unit.
2. Clean the outside of the unit
Leaving anything hanging around your unit could damage it throughout the winter. Trim any plants that are hanging over the unit or growing too close and sweep away any leaves or grass that could blow onto it. Using a hose with high pressure is a good option to clean the fan blades and condensing coils and rid of dirt and bugs.
Clear out all debris that is around the unit as well so that winter winds don’t blow it underneath or into the unit. Freezing temperatures and snow can trap the debris, which could cause damage once summer comes and you start the unit back up.
3. Check the air conditioning unit for cracks or damage
Once you’ve turned the power off and cleaned the unit, it’s a good idea to take a close look at the exterior of the unit and see if there are any cracks or rust. Crevices within the unit should be sealed tight as well. If you find any cracks or broken seals, call one of our HVAC.com experts so we can address the issue before the rough winter comes.
4. Cover the air conditioning unit
There is some debate over covering your unit, but it’s best to provide some form of protection to prolong its life and increase resistance against the harsh winter elements. One option is to purchase a cover, which costs anywhere between $15 to $30 depending on the size of your air conditioning unit and where you purchase the cover from.
On the flip side, the concern with using a cover is the possibility of moisture getting trapped underneath it, causing mold to grow. To avoid this, make sure you have at least 12 inches of exposed coil so that air continues to circulate during the winter.
Another cover option is to put a simple piece of plywood on top of your unit. This ensures the unit can breathe and you won’t run the risk of potential mold or corrosion from trapped moisture. The wood also does a good job of protecting it from falling ice and keeping leaves and debris away.
5. Check the air conditioning unit during the winter
This is an ongoing check you can do throughout the winter. As snow and ice continue to build up on your unit, get in the habit of clearing it off. This will help keep unnecessary weight off the top of the unit, avoiding extra strain in the steel which has the potential to cause damage in the future.
While your A/C unit may not have made your initial fall ‘to-do’ list, a little pre-winter preparation can save you time and money when the hot summer months are again upon us.
Have any questions on these steps? Feel free to add a comment and we’ll get back to you right away!
Image Courtesy of rateland