As the last few warm days of fall are quickly coming to an end, most people are getting ready to turn on the heat. If you have not upgraded to an HVAC unit that controls both your heat and air conditioning, this means you need to shut down your central air conditioning unit for the winter. Shutting down your unit is not as simple as flipping a switch. You need to take steps to ensure it will be ready for you to use next spring and summer.
1. Schedule a Maintenance Visit
Although you may think a maintenance visit would be better in the spring, there are several reasons to schedule a visit before you close your unit down for the winter:
- Unaddressed problems may worsen over the winter
- Serviced units will be ready to turn back on when you need them
- Scheduled service calls are cheaper than emergency calls
The global supply chain nightmare is affecting the availability of certain computer chips and parts. If you wait until your unit is no longer running and your part is not in stock, you may face long delays in getting your unit repaired. Would you rather wait during the winter months when you don't need your air conditioning or during the summer when the temperature is climbing?
2. Clean Your Outside Unit
For safety, turn your unit off before cleaning it. This step will keep it from coming on unexpectedly. Rake away any leaves and debris around the base of your unit.
Use your hose to rinse off the outside cabinet. Use a hard stream and spray it from top to bottom. Contrary to what you think, water will not damage your unit. It sits out in the rain all of the time.
Cleaning your unit will help it work more efficiently. Dirt and debris in your unit can block the required airflow.
Do not use a pressure washer, even on a low setting, on your unit. The fins on your outdoor unit as delicate, and the hard stream of water from the pressure washer could cause these to bend or crimp.
If you have a lot of dirt and debris on your fins, consider using a soft scrub brush or even an old toothbrush in those hard-to-reach places. If you see crimps or slight bends in your fins, use a fin comb to straighten them. Straight fins produce better airflow.
Switch your unit back on briefly. Running it for a little while will help get the remaining water off your unit and dry any wet internal components.
3. Turn Your Unit Off
Bumping up your thermostat to a higher temperature will keep your air from coming on, but if you happen to have a warm winter day, you run the risk of it coming on. Make sure the unit is off at your breaker box. Turning it off here will ensure your unit is completely powered down and will stay that way until you turn the breaker back on.
4. Cover Your Outside Unit
Many people do not see the need to cover their outside components during the winter. Not covering it is a poor practice. A covered external unit will keep dirt and debris from being blown into your unit during windy weather.
Covering your outside unit with a waterproof cover will not only keep your unit dry during wet winter weather. The covering will also keep ice and snow from entering your unit. Keeping ice and snow out is essential because when water freezes, it expands, often causing damage around it. When this ice is in or around your unit, it can cause damage to your unit's fins and other components.
Call your air conditioning contractor today and schedule your winter maintenance appointment. Once serviced, your unit will be ready to be closed down for the winter.