The leaves are turning beautiful oranges and reds, pumpkin patches are swarming with families, and the temperatures have gotten cooler- especially in Utah! Fall weather brings wonderful memories and traditions – but some are more fun than others. You’d probably rather go apple picking than winterize your air conditioner – right? Luckily, winterizing your outdoor HVAC unit takes less time than you’d think. Just follow Landmark Home Warranty’s steps, and you’ll be out and about drinking a pumpkin spice flavored beverage before you know it.
The first thing to remember when winterizing your air conditioner unit is that these systems were designed to be outdoors. They aren’t going to malfunction if they sit out in the snow or rain, which is prevalent in Utah. However, there are certain things you can do to make sure they don’t sustain any damage during the winter months. If you don’t properly care for your unit, you could end up needing major repairs when you try and turn it on the next summer. As always, Landmark Home Warranty always recommends you follow your HVAC manufacturer’s suggestions when it comes to maintenance. If you are doing everything the manufacturer recommends, your home warranty coverage will usually pay to repair or replace your unit if it fails from normal wear and tear.
- Shut Off Unit
The first thing you should do before performing any maintenance on your HVAC unit is to shut off the circuit. Usually, a unit will have a metal lid by the outdoor system that has an on/off switch. Turn that switch off to shut down your unit. Sometimes in places like Utah on a warm sunny day the air conditioner will register the warm temperatures and start. Although this could be refreshing for the day, water could get into the coils and freeze if the temperatures drop again, causing rust and corrosion within your unit.
- Wash the Cover
Next, pick a warm day to do this step to make sure your unit will dry completely. Take a wet cloth and get any dirt, dust and bird droppings off of the unit. Make sure there aren’t any dead bugs, sticks, leaves, or debris around the bottom of the unit either. Dead sticks and leaves can look alluring to small animals who will try to nest in your unit. As a home warranty company, many of our Utah residents find chewed wiring from nests of small animals after winter inside of their units. This can cause major problems for your A/C unit. After wiping it down, make sure it is completely dry.
- Cover the Unit
After ensuring the unit is dry, cover it. Some HVAC specialists recommend a tarp or furnace cover. However, small rodents sometimes see fabric covers as a safe place to bed down for the winter. Depending on your HVAC system, make sure to ask a manufacturer what they recommend as far as covering the unit. No matter if you cover the unit with a tarp or not, make sure to cover the top. You can use a slab of plywood and a brick to ensure the plywood doesn’t fall off. This prevents leaves, sticks, and icicles from falling into the top of your HVAC unit.
No matter what you do to cover the unit, just remember when you turn your air conditioner back on in the summer, you remove it. As a home warranty, we have seen many homeowners overheat their HVAC units because they forget to take of their winter covering.
- Cover Exposed Pipes
Next, cover exposed pipes with foam pipe covers. You can purchase these at virtually any home improvement store. Simply slip the pipe covers over the exposed pipes and tape them together with duct tape. In places like Utah, temperatures can get below freezing quickly. This insulation prevents the pipes from freezing and breaking.
- Get a Furnace Tune-up
As you transition from air conditioning to heating, take the time to get a qualified furnace technician to look at your unit. They can help you winterize your outdoor unit and get your furnace up and running correctly. If you live in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon or Texas, and have a Landmark home warranty you can get a furnace tune-up for the price of a service call fee. Learn more about why getting a furnace tune-up can help you to prevent repairs and replacements in the long run.
- Check up on the Outdoor Unit Often
After you winterize your outdoor unit, do a visual inspection every month during the winter to make sure there aren’t any debris or small animals inside. Brush snow and ice off of the outside of the unit, too.
If you complete these winterizing tips, your air conditioner should run smoothly for its full life expectancy. Of course, when your HVAC unit is nearing the end of its lifespan, make sure it is protected with a home warranty plan. A home warranty will protect your systems and appliances like your HVAC system when they break down from normal wear and tear. Purchase a home warranty HVAC plan or learn more here.