As frigid temperatures blow through the winter season in Bloomington, MN, it's not likely that many homeowners have their air conditioners on their minds. Oftentimes, as summer transitions to fall and fall turns to winter, one area of the home that is often overlooked is the outdoor air conditioner unit. Winterizing your air conditioner is an important aspect of HVAC maintenance that can protect your cooling system from harsh weather conditions, ice, snow, rust, and more.
By protecting your AC from the elements in the winter, you'll help ensure it's ready to keep your home cool and comfortable come summer. Here, our HVAC technicians explain how to winterize your air conditioner for long-lasting performance. Contact us today to learn more about our air conditioner services and join our residential HVAC planned maintenance program!
Why Is It Important To Winterize Your Air Conditioner?
Winterizing is a straightforward, multi-step process that doesn't take much time. If you complete the winterization process, it can help you avoid an AC emergency during the hottest days of the year once summer rolls around. Ideally, you should winterize your cooling system before the first frost or your home is covered in snow, but if you're late on your winterization plans, there's no time like the present! Consider the following benefits of winterizing your air conditioner.
- Protects your AC from snow and ice
- Helps maintain mechanical components
- Prevents rust and water damage
- Sustains proper system functioning
- Removes moisture and prevents mold
Turn The System Off
First, identify the location of the electric disconnect switch for your air conditioner near the unit and then flip the switch to the "off" position. If your unit does not have a switch, instead flip the breaker at the main panel to the "off" position. Ensuring that your air conditioner has no power is important for ensuring it won't unexpectedly turn on, even on unexpectedly warm winter days.
Clean The AC Unit
Once you've ensured that your air conditioning unit has no power, next you'll want to clean the unit thoroughly. Remove any dust, debris, dirt, or other accumulated matter that may have gathered on and inside the unit over the summer. Ensuring that your air conditioner is clean and free from debris will help it run more smoothly and efficiently in the warmer months of the year. It will also help prevent your unit from breaking down over the winter. Spray off the unit with a garden hose, but be sure not to damage any of the internal components, such as the fins. If stubborn build-up won't budge, consider using a putty knife to remove it gently.
Change The Air Filters
One of the best ways to prepare your HVAC system for the winter season is to change out or clean the air filters. Air filters are designed to work in conjunction with your cooling system, absorbing and removing airborne particulate matter from the cool air it produces. Over time and with regular use, previously spotless air filters become compacted with dirt, dust, debris, bacteria, and other contaminants. Dirty air filters prevent adequate air flow, which causes the cooling system to work over time, which quickly reduces its effectiveness and efficiency. We recommend changing your air filters as needed for your household and system requirements.
Insulate External Pipes
Now is a good time to inspect the air conditioner, check for any damage that may have occurred over the last high-use season, and make any AC repairs necessary. We recommend inspecting the internal fins for signs of corrosion or bending and contacting a trusted AC repair company to have the damage repaired prior to the winterization process. In addition to inspecting the unit for damage, you should also be sure that the external pipes are properly insulated. Your system's external pipes are subject to freezing and extreme weather conditions. Your pipes should be insulated with foam rubber, fiberglass, or polyethylene foam, each of which can be purchased at your local hardware store.
Install An AC Unit Cover
As winter weather persists through Bloomington, ice, sleet, and snow are common features of this time of the year. During these extreme weather conditions, your AC unit requires a certain amount of protection from the elements, especially after you've thoroughly cleaned its external and internal components. A great way to add an extra layer of protection to your unit is with a special air conditioner unit cover that fits snugly over your unit. If your system doesn't come with a coordinating cover, a waterproof vinyl cover will work best. You can secure the cover with bungee cords or vinyl rope for extra protection.
Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance
Regularly scheduled, seasonal HVAC maintenance is critical not only to help you avoid problems with your cooling system but it can also help keep your system operating at peak efficiency and effectively increase its overall functional lifespan. During each maintenance call, our skilled AC Bloomington technicians will complete a 24-point checklist, which includes cleaning and/or replacing AC filters, checking the condensation drain/pump, checking electrical conditions, cleaning the condenser coil and burners, and much more. Our technicians can effectively winterize your air conditioner and ensure your system is properly cared for.