As the months get colder, those with permanent air conditioning units (such as central air or permanently installed window units) need to know how to prepare them for the winter months ahead. There are a few different things that you need to take care of before winter comes, all of which are designed to protect your system and ensure that it’s ready to go next summer without any issues.
Turn Off the Power
If you have a central air unit, there will be a small box mounted to your home near the outside unit. That will have a switch inside, which may be red. Flip it to the “off” position and then close the lid again. This will help keep the A/C off all winter and protect you from electrocution while you’re performing the next steps to get it ready for winter.
Clean and Inspect the Unit
Once it’s turned off, you will want to get all the leaves, twigs, and debris away from and out of the central air unit. Use a hose to get dust, dirt, and other buildup off the unit and allow it to dry. While you’re cleaning it, take the time to do a quick inspection and make sure that nothing’s amiss. If you notice any parts that seem worn or in need of attention, consider calling in an HVAC specialist to take a look before the snow comes.
Cover and Insulate the Unit
Your outdoor unit should be covered to prevent cracking and to keep debris and ice from building up inside. There are covers that you can buy at home improvement stores that are specially designed for A/C units, or yours might have come with one if you have a newer unit installed by a reputable company. You can also use a waterproof tarp and secure it with rope or bungee cords to ensure that it doesn’t blow away.
Add pipe covers to the exterior pipes and secure them with duct tape to keep the pipes and wires protected from the winter weather, too. And if you’re unsure about any of this, again feel free to call in an HVAC pro.
Make Sure Everyone Knows It’s Off
Once you’ve turned the A/C off outside and gotten the unit ready for winter, you’ll want to make sure that everyone knows it’s not available anymore. The last thing you want is someone trying to kick on the A/C only to have the thermostat do nothing or run for no reason. Make sure that you inform everyone that it’s heat only, or “off” until spring.
Getting a professional HVAC inspection before winter and when you are ready to use the unit again in the spring is also a great way to ensure that your A/C is always in good working order. If you have window units, you’ll also want to clean and protect them from the elements using tarps or special-made covers. Unplug them from the walls to prevent surges or wasted energy, too.
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