Getting ready for winter is more than just making sure you have a snow shovel and some salt for your sidewalk. There are several items around your home that will last longer if you take a few minutes in the fall to get them ready for the coming cold weather. One key item is your air conditioner- considering the cost, you certainly don't want to replace that any more than necessary. Fortunately, getting your air conditioner tucked in for the winter only takes a few easy steps.
Clean and Prep the Condenser
Since your air conditioner's condenser sits outside, it gets quite dirty over the course of the year. The first step in getting your air conditioner ready for the winter is to clean up the condenser. If you don't, that grime will build up, lowering the efficiency of the unit and causing it to fail prematurely.
- Start by shutting down the unit. Most have a switch that will keep it from turning on during an unusually warm fall day, but you also want to shut it down from the breaker so you can work safely.
- Remove the cover (this should only take a screwdriver) and clean the inside of the unit thoroughly. Larger twigs and leaves can be removed by hand, and a garden hose will assist you in getting rid of the rest of the grime.
- Finally, straighten any fins that have gotten bent. A flat head screwdriver can handle small issues, but there is a specialized tool you can buy, called a fin comb, that will allow you to easily repair several layers at once. Let the unit dry completely and replace the cover.
Check the Insulation
There are a couple of pipes that connect the air conditioner and the rest of your house. It is best to keep these covered with insulation during the winter so the fluid inside doesn't freeze. If it is already in place, you only need to ensure that insulation has not been too badly damaged. If it has cracks or is missing, then replace it. Fortunately, you won't need to remove it again in the summer, so one application should be good enough for several winters to come.
Consider Investing in a Cover
While your air conditioner is designed to hold up under the elements, that doesn't mean that the ravages of ice and snow are particularly good for it. A cover is a good way to protect your unit through the harsh winter. Most manufacturers produce covers that are designed to perfectly fit each unit. You can certainly go this route, but it isn't your only option.
A tarp, some bungie cords and a piece of plywood for the top can serve just as well with a much lower price tag. If you have some money still in your budget, consider getting a canvas tarp instead of plastic. This will allow your air conditioner to "breathe" throughout the winter, preventing moisture from building up under the cover. Check your cover every so often, and brush the snow from the top to ensure your air conditioner remains protected throughout the season.
As you can clearly see, it doesn't take more than a few hours to get your air conditioner ready for winter, and it can add years to the life of your air conditioner. This, combined with regular maintenance, will ensure that your air conditioner is ready to go as soon as the warm weather hits next year. Investing in a maintenance contract with your local HVAC technician will also add to the life of your unit, as they can take care of these items and more for you. For more information and tips, visit sites like http://www.homesmartcolorado.com/.