Tips on Preparing Your Air Conditioner for Winter

It’s common for homeowners to discover that their AC, unused for several months, doesn’t cool as it should when temperatures first begin to climb in the summer.

Plan ahead for the season you most need your AC. Preparing your air conditioner for winter makes certain that your system will be in tip-top shape when the hot months roll around.

Here’s how to get ready:

  • The outside unit, called the condenser, works best when air flow is not impeded. Cut back vegetation near the unit and keep household items such as grills or bicycles away.
  • Put a piece of plywood on top of the condenser to prevent rain, leaves, or other debris from falling into the unit. Completely covering the condenser is not recommended. Condensation can form inside and rust the unit. Another possible problem with completely covering the condenser: rodents may seek refuge inside and damage components.
  • Carefully remove debris from the coils, also called the fins. Use a soft brush or a vacuum to remove leaves, dirt or debris. A squirt of the garden hose is OK, too.
  • Turn on the unit for a few minutes in the fall if you haven’t used it for awhile. If something is wrong, it’s better to have it fixed in the offseason rather than when you need it on a daily basis.

Optional tip when you are preparing your air conditioner for winter: Turn off the exterior power by simply flipping the switch, which should be located near the unit. This prevents the unit from accidentally being turned on during the winter, when it’s cold. Don’t forget to switch the unit back on in the spring!


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