It's that bittersweet time again when kids go back to school, the weather turns colder and Halloween is in the air! Once the thought pops into your mind that the time has come to fire up your furnace again for those snowy months ahead, that's your cue that it's also time to shut down your air conditioner until it's needed again. Here are some tips for how to do it right and protect your investment in five easy steps.
1.Clean the area around your outside condenser unit. You need to get your patio or grass surrounding your air conditioner tidied up before addressing the unit itself. Make sure you have all leaves raked up and prune any tree branches that may have grown over the summer and are hanging over your unit. If your area is prone to ice, you don't want large chunks to fall on the condenser during the winter and possibly cause damage.
2.Turn your circuit breaker to the "off" position. Before disconnecting anything, you always want to make sure that the main power source to the unit is NOT in operation both for your own safety and to prevent potential electrical problems in your condenser. Then pull the disconnect and also place it in the "off" position to further prevent any accidental transfer of electric power to the unit while it is not in use.
3.Take a few minutes to thoroughly clean the outside of the condenser itself. Use a clean cloth to wipe down all exterior surfaces and remove twigs, leaves or other foreign matter from grills. You'll prevent your unit from getting scratched and you'll save time and hassle come summer.
4.Place a canvas air conditioner cover over the condenser. Canvas is preferable to vinyl because it's heavy-duty, water-resistant, contains no PVC, and is impervious to even the toughest winter conditions. Canvas is much less likely to tear, fade or leak: you can trust it to keep your A/C safe without having to constantly go out and check on it. The best canvas air conditioner cover will have a built-in drawstring at the bottom for total protection.
5.Finally, place a three-quarter or one-inch thick piece of plywood on top of the condenser to protect it from falling hazards such as icicles or ice dams.
Air conditioner manufacturers report that most of their summer service calls come in response to the consequences of improper condenser winterization. It just makes sense to take a little time in the fall to ensure your A/C will be ready to roll when it's needed most. And the most important step in the whole process is to make sure you use a good air conditioner cover.