With fall officially here, you’ll likely be turning your air conditioner off soon. Before you get into cold weather mode, there are a few things you need to do to “winterize” your cooling system and be sure it will be ready for use next spring.
Do NOT cover the unit!
Before we dive into our four post-summer AC maintenance tasks, it’s important to note that you do not need to add any cover to your outdoor condenser unit. In fact, doing so could do more harm than good. Not only will a cover trap moisture and encourage mold growth, your cozy, covered air conditioner can look comfortable to outdoor critters, including mice, squirrels, and raccoons. The last thing you want to deal with come spring is a moldy air conditioner with wildlife inside.
1. Replace your air filter.
It’s critical that you remember to replace your furnace’s filter routinely. Yes, your furnace’s filter. Failure to do so could result in jeopardized indoor air quality and a heating or cooling system that overheats or experiences premature wear and tear.
All conditioned air in your home passes through your furnace filter. So, even though you have been using your air conditioner all summer and NOT your furnace, the cooled air in your home has passed through this filter all season long. If you haven’t been keeping up with monthly filter replacements, replace it now.
2. Clean the condenser coils.
Carefully inspect and clean your outdoor condenser coils. Use a garden hose to wash away dirt or dust that has built up on the unit. Check around the system for leaves or grass clippings and remove them. Also, this is a great time to trim back bushes or limbs that may be around the unit. This will prevent debris from getting into your outdoor unit during the winter months.
3. Examine coil fins.
Your condenser or evaporator’s coil fins may have gotten bent during a severe storm this past summer. To straighten the fins, you can use a specially designed fin comb, or a butter knife, to carefully push them back into place. If the fins appear to be missing or severely bent, it may be best to call in a cooling professional to get them fixed before next spring.
4. Clean your home’s vents.
Take some time to do post-summer work in your home by cleaning vents and air returns. You would be surprised by how much dirt and dust can build up in these areas. Use a handheld vacuum cleaner to suck up the grime. This will also help with air flow from your furnace during the heating season.
With these tips in mind, your home’s air conditioner will ready for use on the first warm day next spring!