Your air conditioner is a lifesaver during the summer, keeping your home dry and cool during hot, humid months. This valuable unit needs to be taken care of during the fall to ensure that it operates smoothly and efficiently when summer returns. To avoid the costly damage that cold weather, snow, ice and oxidation can cause, take the following measures to keep your air conditioner in good working order.
- Turn off the power: Locate the electrical circuit mounted on the exterior wall near your air conditioning unit. It will have a plastic or metal lid. Open the lid and flip the switch to the off position. Go to your electrical panel and find the breaker(s) labelled for your AC unit. Flip the breaker(s) to the off position. Turning off the AC prevents the risk of electrocution as you perform maintenance tasks and guarantees that the unit will not power up on warm winter days. It also keeps water out that can freeze and damage the condensing unit.
- Clean the unit: Vacuum debris (dirt, bugs, leaves, dust) from the exterior fins and gently straighten bent fins with a butter knife. Unscrew the grill. Set it aside and carefully lift out the fan. Remove debris from the interior of the unit. Gently wipe surfaces with a damp cloth. Spray fins, from the inside, with the garden hose. Allow the unit to dry. Reinsert the fan and reattach the cover. Change the air filter. Clear grass and debris from around the unit. Trim trees and/or bushes, leaving three feet of clearance on all sides and above.
- Inspect the unit: Look for leaks and cracks as well as rust on the casing. Make sure the seals are tight and not cracked. If you discover any issues, contact a licensed HVAC contractor.
- Protect the pipes and wires: Your air conditioner has an intricate system of wiring and piping that connects it to your home. Use foam pipe covers around the exterior pipes. Apply duct tape to keep the foam in place. This keeps the wires and the fluid within the pipes from freezing and cracking.
- Cover the top of your AC unit: Your air conditioner needs protection from leaves, dust, debris, dripping trees and gutters as well as a build-up of ice and snow. Refrain from wrapping it in vinyl or plastic as these materials trap moisture and cause airflow problems. This can result in rust and/or mould growth on wiring, connections, the circuit board and evaporator coils. It also encourages insects and critters to escape from the elements and take up residence in your air conditioner. Instead, cover only the top of the air conditioner using a breathable material. Put plywood on the top of the unit to shield it from snow and ice, weighing it down with bricks or rocks to keep it in place. Consider planting shrubs around the unit to protect from wind and blowing snow. Install a wood awning or shelter that covers the top of the unit providing protection in winter and shade in summer.
- Maintain weekly upkeep during the winter: Periodically, remove snow, ice and debris from the top of your HVAC unit and ensure the cover is still secure. Check for and remove hibernating critters.
Regular maintenance of your AC will extend its life, increase its efficiency and minimize the need for repairs. If you notice an irregularity in your air conditioner, contact a professional HVAC company. Their technicians can help you maintain and repair your air conditioning unit so it’s ready for use when the weather warms.
Have questions regarding your air conditioning unit? Need repairs to your AC? Call Calgary-based Plumbing Paramedics. Our HVAC technicians are friendly, informative and accommodating. Plumbing Paramedics hires only those individuals that we would trust in our own homes! If you’re feeling uneasy about the state of your air conditioner, call us at (403) 452-2911 or email us to book an appointment.
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