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Getting Your AC Unit Ready for Winter
General Heating & Air Conditioning
/ Categories: Air Conditioning, HVAC

Getting Your AC Unit Ready for Winter

One of the great things about life in Minnesota is that we get to enjoy the best of all four seasons. During the hot summer months, we hit the lake for fun-filled days in the warm sunshine. We love to kick back with a glass of ice-cold lemonade and fire up the grill before relaxing in the nice, cool air conditioning.

When our AC unit is running smoothly, there's nothing better than coming indoors to enjoy that cool blast of air-conditioned air. The last thing you want is to turn on your air conditioner for the first time next spring only to realize it's not working due to maintenance oversight.

Although fall is in full swing, and we're looking forward to winter and the holidays, taking important steps now can prevent problems with your AC unit next spring or summer and keep your efficiency levels high. In this post from General Heating & Air Conditioning, we'll show you how to prep your AC unit for winter so you can enjoy the cool air next year.

Winterizing Your AC Unit

Fall in Minnesota is a sight to behold. We get to enjoy a color show that few regions of the country experience.

When the leaves start to fall and the morning air gets gradually cooler, this is the perfect time to think about winterizing your AC unit before truly cold weather hits. Although your AC unit was designed to hold up to most of the challenges nature puts it through, it's important to take key steps to prevent winter damage.

Taking the time now will help to prevent the need for major repairs down the road. Fortunately, winterizing your air conditioner involves a few simple steps you can add to your seasonal home maintenance list.

Why Winterizing is Important

Even though your AC unit is meant to withstand rain, snow, and extreme temperatures, winter can truly put it to the test. Taking steps now can prevent small animals from taking up residence inside your unit. It can also protect your HVAC unit against rust and other damage from ice and snow.

Follow these steps to keep your HVAC unit safe all winter long:

1. Turn Off the AC Unit for the Season

The first step is to shut off your AC unit completely for the year. Find the electrical circuit and cut the power to your system to prevent it from coming on when an unseasonably warm day hits. This prevents water from getting into the system, where it can freeze and cause damage or rust.

2. Clean the AC Unit

During the summer and fall, your AC unit can pick up all kinds of debris. Be sure to clean your unit on a warm, sunny day so it will have time to completely dry without freezing. Clean the outdoor unit by removing twigs, leaves, and grass debris. This type of debris can draw small animals that might try to make a home out of your unit and chew your wiring in the process.

Next, rinse the unit with a garden hose to remove bugs, dust, dirt, and animal droppings that have accumulated there. Finally, wipe the unit down to aid in the drying process.

3. Cover Exposed Pipes

Use foam pipe covers to cover any exposed pipes to prevent freezing. These covers can be easily purchased at any hardware or home improvement store. They slip on easily and can be taped with duct tape, providing insulation for your AC unit's pipes.

4. Cover the Unit

After drying your unit completely, you'll need to cover it with a waterproof cover. Ask our HVAC specialists about a custom cover available from your HVAC manufacturer. Each manufacturer will have recommendations for protecting your unit during the winter months. It may be tempting to DIY a cover using tarps or fabric and tie-downs.

However, if the cover is inadequate, small animals may still be tempted to crawl inside. If no fitted cover is available, you'll want to at least cover your unit with plywood and bricks to prevent icicles and debris from getting into your system. And whatever you do, don't forget to remove your cover before turning on your unit next summer.

5. Check on Your Unit

During the winter months, you'll need to check on your A/C unit periodically to remove any debris or ice that has built up, make sure no animals are living inside, and adjust the cover.

6. Schedule Regular Maintenance Checks

In addition to taking the above steps to winterize your unit, it's also important to schedule regular furnace and A/C unit tune-ups for your annual HVAC system maintenance. Regular furnace tune-ups should be scheduled once or twice a year to keep your system working at its optimal level of performance.

7. Change the Filter

Filter maintenance is a key part of keeping the system running, and changing them every three months when in use is recommended. If you have not recently changed them out, do the replacement now and save yourself some time when spring rolls around. 

8. Caulk Any Gaps

For those with window model AC units, cracks and gaps naturally happen, and caulking is one of the best solutions to seal any questionable areas. Apply it on the unit's exterior to reduce the chance of leaks coming through the space and add extra support for holding it in place.

9. Don't Put Off Repairs

The fact is you don't know when you'll need to use the unit next, and commonly, issues like dirty condenser coils, refrigerant leaks, and even fan problems can crop up with heavy use. If you know of any damage or repairs that need to be completed, don't put them off because addressing minor repair issues early can also prevent more serious problems down the road.

Contact Our Twin Cities Heating and Air Conditioning Repair Pros

Taking the time to winterize and maintain your HVAC unit now can save you a headache down the road. General Heating & Air Conditioning has been in the business for over 50 years and only provides the highest quality services and products you can depend on.

To schedule your regular furnace tune-up, connect with a home air conditioning specialist by calling us at 952-445-2820 or contact us online.

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