Three Ways To Ensure Your Outdoor AC Unit Stays In Shape During The Winter

Although it's designed to survive outdoors throughout the year, your AC unit may not be prepared to face blizzards without some help from you. In fact, manufacturers and mechanics alike recommend that you take some simple steps to help reduce wear and tear, potential damage, and any more subtle harm that severe weather can inflict on your unit. Here are three ways you can help your unit survive the ice and snow this winter.

1. Cleaning 

The fan blades are one of the most fragile areas of an AC unit, and if they become crusted over with dirt their weight will increase, making it even easier for the next storm to snap, crack, or bend them. You can clean the fan blades gently with a damp cloth after switching off the unit's power. You should also clear out any debris, such as dead leaves, that you find inside or on top of the unit. Then clean the unit by spraying the fins with a hose. 

2. Protecting

Before the ground freezes, you should insulate your unit to prevent or minimize damage. You can do this as soon as the unit is dry after you hose it down, so it's possible to get the whole process out of the way in one day. Use foam to insulate any sections of pipe that run above ground, and then cover the unit itself with a vinyl AC unit cover. If you're not willing to spring for a cover, protect fan blades by placing a piece of plywood on top of the unit, weighted down sufficiently that it won't blow away in your area's most severe storms. A tarp doesn't offer sufficient protection and is too much of a hassle to be a good alternative for a unit cover.

3. Professional check-up

Some HVAC contractors recommend getting an AC checkup once per year, while others recommend two checkups per year. The latter school of thought recommends one checkup in the spring and one in the fall. Whichever path you choose to take, be consistent. If you get a checkup in spring and then just forget to plan a fall checkup, you'll never know what the contractor would have discovered. Getting a professional checkup in the fall can help catch problems that arise from summer usage before they worsen from neglect (and from additional usage in the spring). Of course, if you schedule a professional maintenance for the fall, you'll want to do so before covering your unit for the winter. Contact a local contractor, like Davis Repair Service, for help.

As you check these items off your list, you can feel good about your responsible choices and about the chances of having a fully operational AC unit when you need it again in the spring.