If you live in an area where temperatures reach sub-freezing and below, you should prepare your central air unit for the winter months. It has done its job for you all summer, so you want to treat it well so it's in good shape when summer rolls around again. Though units are designed to tolerate the elements, it's best to not take chances with two feet of snow. Here are some tips for winterizing your central air unit.
Turn Off the Juice and Gather Tools
For this project, you will need:
- a hose
- a cloth
- tree clippers
- a nut driver
- a roll of duct tape
- foam covers
- automotive wax
- vinyl ropes or bungee cords
- vinyl or plastic cover
Turn off power to the unit to avoid shock while you work, and to prevent the unit from being accidentally turned on in the cold weather. Switch the unit off at the thermostat, then look for a small, gray exterior box on the outside unit. Open the box, pull the red circuit handle out, turn the red handle upside down, then push back in place. On some units, you may need to flip the breaker inside the box.
Clean It Up
Clip tree limbs or shrubbery that could interfere with air circulation being mindful of copper wires and pipes. Remove the covers to the air compressor and coil unit, removing any leaves, grass clippings, or other debris. To make cleaning leaves faster, use an air compressor. If the panels have screws, remove them with the nut driver.
Spray the coils with a garden hose to remove debris, concentrating on 12 inch by 12 inch area of coils at a time. Wait until the water has completely drained off the coils, and repeat the process overlapping another 12 inch by 12 inch area. After the unit completely dries, coat access panels with automotive wax, and dab excess wax with a cloth.
Wrap it Up
Cover the exposed exterior pipes with foam covers, cut the foam to fit if needed, then secure it with duct tape. Wrap the vinyl or plastic cover over the unit securing it with the vinyl ropes or bungee cords, making certain the ropes or cords are tight enough to withstand wind. The covers can be bought from a local home supply store or an HVAC contractor.
Winterizing your central air unit will help to keep it running longer, and protect it from frigid temperatures. If you notice leaks or other problems with your unit while you prepare it for cold weather, contact an air conditioning service it for you.