Winterizing Your Air Conditioning System

Wintering your air conditioner is an important measure that homeowners must take to support the longevity of their unit and ensure that it works efficiently for the next warm season. While it's always a good idea to invite your HVAC professional over to handle complex winterization tasks and, of course, to service it in the spring with preventative maintenance, homeowners can still perform many winterizing steps for their air conditioning unit on their own. Use the following tips as a helpful guide for winterizing your air conditioner:

Why Winterize Your Air Conditioner?

Winterizing your air conditioning unit helps to protect it from snow, ice, and debris associated with late fall and winter weather. These elements can take their toll on your outdoor unit and dramatically reduce its longevity. Moreover, ice and debris can lead to expensive repairs over time. By winterizing your unit, you can better protect it from damage and allow it to operate efficiently when the hot weather returns.

Shut Down the Air Conditioning Unit

The first step to winterizing your air conditioner is to turn off its exterior power. This switch is typically found under the lid of your outdoor unit. This step prevents anyone from inadvertently turning the unit on during a warm snap. Using the air conditioning in late fall or winter can spell trouble because it lets water into the unit, which could then freeze when the weather cools and cause internal problems for the air conditioning unit.

Clean away Debris

After you've switched off the power, you should rake up any debris around the unit like leaves and branches. After removing all debris set your hose to "jet" and hose away any bird droppings or dirt on the unit. Be sure to allow the unit to dry completely before covering it up for the winter.

Cover Pipes

Many homeowners prefer to cover any pipes of their unit that are exposed with foam. This will help guard against freezing. You can secure this insulating material around the pipes using duct tape.

Apply a Tarp or Cover

Next, cover your unit with an air conditioner cover or a waterproof tarp. These covers will protect your compressor. Secure the cover well with cords or ties to ensure that it doesn't blow off or that its flaps allow debris to blow back in at the unit. When using a tarp, you may need to use additional ties to secure it well; bungee cords will work well for this purpose.

Final Steps

Sealing off air conditioning vents and ducts may not benefit your unit in any particular way, but it will prevent cold air from seeping into your home and running up your heating expenses. You can use specialty tape to seal these vents and easily remove it in the spring. Also, be sure to check your unit periodically to remove branches and debris as well as to ascertain that its cover is still in place. Be sure to remove any snow or ice piled on your unit as soon as you can.

By taking these measures, you can protect this important system of your home and guard against costly repairs. If you have any questions, contact your professional HVAC professional and don't forget to schedule an appointment if you require more advanced winterizing!