Air conditioners like other things in your home require preparation for the seasons ahead. As the fall and winter seasons approach, preparation begins in anticipation of the cold weather that they bring with them. As a homeowner, you are likely scheduling your heating systems routine maintenance, making sure your doors and windows aren’t letting in cold air, and taking all of the other necessary precautions that will help keep you and your family cozy! While unpacking your scarves, hats, and gloves, it’s possible that one important aspect of your home has slipped your mind: your air conditioner.

Even though you don’t use your air conditioner at this time of year, it needs to be prepared for cold weather along with every other system in your home.   While an AC may keep you cool in the warmer months, it’s not equipped to deal with freezing temperatures. Here are a few ways to prepare your air conditioner for the cold weather this fall and winter will bring.

Knowing Air Conditioners

To properly care for any aspect of your home, you should know the specific system and how it works. Here are the three most common types of air conditioning methods, and how they work to keep your home cool in the warmer months.

  • Central air conditioners and heat pumps are the most common system in newer homes. Because they are often used to heat or cool entire houses, they are an important fixture that requires maintenance and care. Typically, they are made up of an outdoor compressor that serves as a power source, and indoor coils that deliver cool air into the home through ducts. This system works similarly for heating as well, and both air temperatures are pushed through by an internal fan system.
  • Room air conditioners are another common cooling method in many homes. You can typically find them in windows, or situated in an opening in a wall or ceiling. They are similar to the central air conditioning in function, but they are smaller, typically portable units designed to cool a single room or small floors, such as a bedroom or small apartment.
  • Ductless mini-split air conditioners are quickly rising as one of the most common types of air cooling systems used in the U.S., along with their popularity outside of the country. They are similar size and shape to room AC’s; they are typically portable and are used to cool smaller areas. They tend to be more efficient, however, because they waste less energy. They also improve your air quality; they are less likely to develop cracks where contaminants can build up and release into your air supply.

How to Prepare Air Conditioners for Cold Weather

Now that you are familiar with the most common types of air conditioning systems, it’s time to go over how to properly prepare them for the colder months. Here are ways you can winterize your specific equipment, so it will be ready to keep you cool when spring and summer return.

Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

Because these systems dually cool and heat your house, routine maintenance is important. Experts say that your system should be inspected and tested twice a year, specifically those that do both. Because your heat should be checked before the colder months have arrived in full force, a professional will be able to check and see if your ducts and vents will be in top shape for spring and summer. Because the air compressor is located outdoors, you can winterize it yourself by following these steps:

  1. Remove debris on or around the unit. Leaves, grass, sticks; nothing should be left behind. You can rinse the compressor off with a hose to remove any materials that may be stuck or hardened.
  2. After allowing the unit to dry completely, find the electrical circuit. This is typically covered by a lid, and when uncovered, reveals a switch to cut off the power supply. This will keep the compressor from turning on in unseasonably warm weather and it will keep water out.
  3. Insulate around the pipes. Foam or rubber installation can be cut to fit appropriately and will prevent the pipes from freezing.
  4. Once the unit is insulated, it should be covered with a waterproof cover or sturdy tarp. These can be secured with bungee cords, bricks, or wood, as long as the cover stays firmly in place during windy rain or snow.
  5. When it snows, you should remove any build up from the top of your compressor. Adjust the cover as needed.

Room Air Conditioners

The steps to winterize a room air conditioner that is situated in a window, wall, or ceiling, are similar to those that apply to a central air compressor. Some window units can be removed and stored until the warm weather returns, but for larger models that can’t be removed, you will need to clean and cover them properly.

  1. Turn off the power, whether it’s inside or outside of your home.
  2. Remove or wash any debris, like sticks or bug droppings.
  3. Since some of these models are raised to fit into a wall or ceiling, they may require extra coverage. Secure them with waterproof tarps, and tie off any exposed sides with bungee cords or string.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Because these are often portable, just be sure to cut off the power source and store in a dry place with a moderate temperature, such as a closet or attic.

Now that you know how important it is to winterize your AC, you should add it to your routine maintenance list this fall. Preparing it for the cold will only extend the lifespan of your equipment, possibly prevent future repairs,  keep it functioning properly, and delay the time of replacement.

Call Approved Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning today for more information on air conditioners!