You can feel a nip in the New Jersey air, which is an unmistakable sign that winter is on its way. Before the cold weather arrives in full swing, set aside a few minutes to shut down your air conditioner for the season.
By winterizing your cooling unit when summer ends, you protect unit from colder temperatures and help ensure it’s ready to operate at its fullest potential next spring. Here are the steps you need to take.
Go outside and check near the condensing unit (which is your outdoor unit) for the exterior power switch. Open the lid, hit the switch, and close the lid again. This task prevents the air conditioner from turning on if someone accidentally bumps the thermostat to cooling mode in the middle of winter, which prevents water from potentially freezing inside the unit and causing damage.
Now is the time to clear away fallen leaves, grass clippings, and other items from near the condensing unit. Hose it off when the temperature is well above freezing outside, pick out any leaves or twigs that remain, and sweep around the unit so cold winds don’t send any debris into or beneath the air conditioner.
As you prepare to shut down your system when cooling season ends, check for cracks, rust, or other problems with the outdoor unit. Ensure that all seals are tight and that everything looks good. If you notice a broken seal or crack, call in a professional technician to service your air conditioner. This helps ensure you won’t face problems in the spring when you turn on your air conditioner for the first time in several months.
Some people insist on covering their air conditioner with a tarp or commercially available air conditioner cover. However, this often creates more problems than it solves! For example, moisture can condense on the air conditioner through the plastic cover, and since it can’t evaporate quickly when it’s covered up, the unit may rust or harbor mold growth. Rodents can also seek shelter from harsh winter conditions under the plastic cover and chew through essential wiring. This could make for an expensive repair come spring.
At the same time, you don’t want icicles from the roof falling onto and damaging the condensing unit! A good compromise is to protect the top of the air conditioner from falling ice with a piece of plywood. Weigh down the plywood with a couple of bricks so it doesn’t topple to the ground in windy conditions. Leaving the sides of the air conditioner uncovered in the winter won’t damage it, but will protect your unit from dangerous winter conditions.
About once or twice a month, take a quick glance at your air conditioner to make sure it’s in good shape. Reposition the plywood and bricks if needed, and pick out any leaves, pine needles or other debris that have become embedded in the condensing unit. Taking care of your air conditioner throughout the winter will help ensure you don’t end up facing a nasty surprise in the spring.
If you’re not sure how to shut down your air conditioner properly, or you have other questions about transitioning to the heating season, please contact Air Professionals at 908-284-2422 for help! We are happy to help you and to provide any other HVAC services you may need in your New Jersey home.