Are you ready for winter? Is your air conditioner? If the answer to the second question is no, then you know what your answer to the first should be. While your outdoor condenser is designed to be outside, that doesn't mean you can't take steps to ensure that it remains in the best possible condition. Since a happy air conditioner is more efficient and lasts longer, it is in your best interest to make this investment.
Clean the Area Around the Condenser
The more leaves and debris you leave near the condenser, the more of that debris will end up clogging the inside of the unit, destroying its efficiency. Fall is the perfect time to trim back the bushes and trees that are near the unit, and clear away any fallen leaves.
There are a couple steps you can take to make this job easier throughout the year. Never push debris into the condenser with your lawn mower or leaf blower. You can also invest in a screen that will keep debris out while allowing air to flow freely. Most manufacturers produce these screen for their units, and your HVAC tech can order one for you. You will still need to clear away debris, but it will be a matter of brushing off the top instead of opening the case and cleaning out the coils by hand.
Schedule a Maintenance Visit
If you want to keep your air conditioner running properly, you must have the unit serviced annually. In the same way that your car won't last long if you never change the oil, your air conditioner won't work very well if it is not cleaned regularly.
While the technician is out cleaning the condenser, they will also check the system for brewing electrical problems, which could cause the unit to fail in the near future. This allows you to have the parts replaced early, rather than having to pay for an emergency repair next summer.
Finally, the tech will check and clean the drainage system, and look for leaks in the rest of your HVAC system. While leaky ducts won't kill your air conditioner, they will kill your wallet in the form of increased heating and cooling bills.
Prep the Condenser For Winter
Once you are done using your AC for the year, it isn't a bad idea to shut it down for the winter. You can start by literally turning of the power to the unit. This will keep it from getting turned on accidentally when you could simply let any excess heat in your home dissipate naturally into the cold winter air. If you turned the heat up too high, or overheated your home by baking, you can simply open a window for a few minutes to let that heat out.
You can also cover the condenser to give it an extra layer of protection. This is especially useful if you live in a harsh climate, where snow and ice could get inside the unit and damage it. You can purchase a specially built cover, or simply wrap it in a tarp and use bungee cords to keep the tarp from blowing away.
Some HVAC techs suggest that you allow the unit to breathe, even in the winter. If this is a concern for you, you can instead invest in a higher quality canvas tarp, or use plywood and a few bricks to cover just the top of the unit.
As with many major purchases, protecting your investment means taking proper care of your air conditioner. Make air conditioning maintenance part of your home's winter checklist to ensure that your unit will be ready to go come spring. Contact an HVAC company for more info.