After working hard all summer to keep you cool and comfortable, your AC unit deserves a rest. Before preparing your unit for winter, you'll need to be sure that it's only an AC unit and not also a heat pump. If it's providing heat to your home during the winter, then that means it doesn't get to hibernate, and you'll need to use different care techniques.
Whether you have your AC checkup done in the spring or the fall, a little bit of fall attention is needed to get the unit ready to withstand winter conditions. Here are three types of damage to avoid by preparing your unit for the cold season.
1. Freeze Damage
Freezing temperatures can damage an AC unit in a couple of different ways if it's not prepared. For example, you'll need to make sure that you cover any exposed pipes with pipe insulation to reduce the likelihood of burst pipes. If you live in an extreme climate, then you'll also want to apply heat tape in case of extra-cold temperatures.
Whether or not you'll need to cover your entire outside AC unit - rather than just covering the top to keep stuff from falling in - depends on a few different variables, such as the type of unit and your climate. Discuss these factors with a professional who's inspected your unit and knows the weather in your area. They can give you the best advice on this particular aspect of AC unit prep work.
2. Critter Damage
Unfortunately, many homeowners' well-intentioned efforts to protect a unit from the elements end up protecting small critters from the elements as well. Then, the condenser is full of mouse nests during spring, and some cables or hoses might be gnawed through.
Mice, squirrels and other small pests can cause this type of problem. In some cases, you'll want to simply forgo the complete covering and just cover the top of the unit. Alternatively, you can use traps to catch the rodents, or you can use a specially formulated repellent spray to keep them away from the unit in the first place.
3. Falling Objects
This is where AC covers and shelters come in. If you want to keep things basic, you can just stick a piece of plywood on top of the unit when the weather gets cool - make sure to secure it firmly so it won't get carried away by the wind.
This cover can keep out falling icicles, branches and lesser debris, like twigs and leaves. Falling objects and debris could potentially damage the insides of the unit. Leaves may not seem dangerous, but when are left inside the unit to molder all winter, they hold on to moisture that could cause rust damage to your unit.
If your unit isn't just an AC unit but also functions as a heat pump, you can't just cover it up. Rather, you'll need to build or install an enclosure to shelter it while also allowing for plenty of airflow.
In some climates and situations you can do without this enclosure, but if you have nearby trees or ample snowfall in your area, then you'll want to offer it some protection so it can continue to heat your house throughout the winter months.
The winter season can be hard on your AC unit. However, with the right preparation, you can avoid potential damage. For more information about how to protect your unit from the weather and wildlife this winter, contact us at ACA Appliance & Air Conditioning, LLC. Our experienced technicians can help you with your AC maintenance and repair needs.