Summer is starting to wind down. The official start of the fall season is only a few weeks away. Soon, temperatures outside will cool and you won’t need to use your air conditioner to stay comfortable. There’s more to getting your air conditioner ready for the winter than simply flipping your thermostat from “COOL” to “HEAT.” There are a few things you should do NOW — before cold weather arrives — so that you can have a functioning cooling system next spring when warmer weather returns.
Schedule an AC tune-up!
First things first: If you haven’t yet scheduled a maintenance appointment this year for your air conditioner, now is the time to do it! While you may be feeling that this can’t be too important since you’ll soon be shutting your unit off for a few months, know that failure to schedule annual tune-up appointments for your home’s air conditioner could ultimately lead to a premature and expensive breakdown of the system when you use it again.
There may be problems with your air conditioner that could be detected now with maintenance. The appointment may also prevent problems this fall and winter with your heating system, which shares some components with your cooling system. If it’s been a while since you’ve changed your system’s air filter, it may have dirt, dust, and pet hair caught in it. This could cause your AC (and furnace) to work harder than necessary to push air through your home. That extra effort may lead to higher energy bills and premature wear and tear on both systems’ vital components. Remember to change your air filter regularly — once a month is the rule of thumb, but more often if individuals in your home smoke or if you have pets, both of which could cause the filter to become dirty more frequently.
While it’s important to schedule a tune-up appointment for your AC, you also need to schedule a yearly checkup for your home’s heating system. Many service providers offer “combo” appointments during the late summer and early fall timeframe, wherein they can perform an inspection and tune-up on both your air conditioner and heating system.
Don’t cover your air conditioner!
While you may think that you should add a cover to your AC this fall and winter to prevent snow, ice, and unwanted critters from getting into the condenser, doing so could actually do more harm than good. When you add a cover to the AC, it will trap moisture inside of the system. Whenever it rains, or you have melting snow and ice around your home, moisture will infiltrate the unit. You may not notice a problem until spring when you try and turn the air conditioner on for cool relief, only to find that it doesn’t come on at all, or isn’t cooling your home as usual. This may be a result of moisture damage to vital components inside the condenser, such as to the wiring and coils.
You may think that a cover will keep unwanted pests out of the system, but it may have the opposite effect and make the unit even more inviting since it’s protected from the elements. Mice, squirrels, and other critters may chew threw the cover to get inside. Once inside, they may use the wiring and other components in the unit to create a warm nesting area.
Check whether your AC is working as well as it should
Have you noticed the system making strange noises when running this past summer? Are there areas of your home that feel warmer than normal? Have you seen puddles of moisture outside your condenser unit? These could be warning signs of potential problems that should be taken care of before next spring. Service providers will be able to diagnose and repair the issue(s) so that your air conditioner will be ready for use on the first warm day next year.
Clean the coils on your outdoor condenser
Along with trimming back any bushes or tree limbs around your condenser unit, it’s also a good idea to use a garden hose to clean off any dirt, dust, or debris on or inside of the system. This could help prevent a build-up over the fall and winter months. Be sure that your air conditioner is shut OFF before spraying the system with a hose.
Want more help with maintaining your heating and cooling systems?
At Pivotal Home Solutions, we provide homeowners like you with a variety of repair and maintenance plans designed with affordability in mind. Our plans, such as our Cooling Repair and Heating Repair plans, will keep these vital home appliances protected in case of a covered and unexpected breakdown. Our Cooling Maintenance and Heating Maintenance plans include annual tune-ups by certified pros. Want more information on how to enroll in one of our plans? Enter your ZIP code in the box in the top right corner of the website to see which plans are available in your area.