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Tips For Winterizing Your Central Air Conditioner

If you're like most South Carolina homeowners, you couldn't imagine getting through the hot summer without your central air conditioning unit. When the temperatures begin to drop and you don't need your air conditioner to keep your family comfortable, it's time to prepare it for the cooler days ahead. Properly winterizing your central air conditioner will ensure it is functioning properly when you need it again.

Here are a few tips to help you protect your central air conditioner during the winter months.

Turn Off the Power to the Unit

Begin by locating the power source to the condenser, which is the large metal unit outside. Typically, the cut-off switch will be on the condenser itself. Locate the lid on the condenser, open it and turn the switch from "on" to "off." Turning off the condenser before the winter is critical for one simple reason: it prevents anyone from accidentally turning on the unit in the winter.

If the temperatures are cold and you switch on your central air conditioner, it could cause the condenser to freeze, which will lead to an expensive repair.

Clear Away Any Debris

Once the air conditioner is turned off, begin clearing away any debris around the condenser. This includes brush, leaves, branches and other yard waste. Cleaning the area around the condenser will ensure that the debris doesn't become stuck to and freeze on the metal condenser. Use caution when cleaning the area around the condenser. Avoid hitting the condenser or causing any damage.

Clean Off the Unit

The next step is to clean off the condenser. This is an important step because it prevents any of the dirt and debris on the unit from freezing to it, which can cause serious damage. Here are the steps to take to clean off your central air conditioner's condenser:

  • Clean off the exterior of the condenser with the hose attachment of your vacuum. Make sure to clean off all four sides and the top of the condenser.
  • Carefully remove the fan from the top of the condenser. Loosen the screws and lift the fan off the condenser. Set it to the side, and pay attention to avoid removing any wires from the fan or the condenser.
  • Dampen a cloth with plain water and wipe down the fan blades and the inside of the condenser. Use caution when wiping down the fan blades.
  • Fit an attachment to your garden hose and clean off the inner walls of the condenser. Point the attachment so the water sprays toward the outside of the condenser. Allow the condenser to dry completely before reattaching the fan.

If you don't feel comfortable cleaning the condenser, contact a professional HVAC technician for assistance.

Cover the Unit and Any Exposed Pipes

After the condenser is completely dry, it's time to cover it and any exposed pipes. There are several options available to cover your condenser, and the type you choose depends upon your needs and budget. For example, a burlap or plastic cover is an inexpensive option that will protect your condenser from the elements.

However, if you're looking for a more visually attractive option, consider building a protective structure around the condenser using wood planks or plywood. Next, use pipe insulation to cover any exposed pipes that go from the condenser to your home. Follow the directions on the insulation. This typically involves cutting the foam and fitting it over the pipes. The foam will help protect the pipes from the cool winter temperatures.

Preparing your central air conditioner for winter will help ensure it works well in the summer. If you have any further questions, contact the professionals at Charleston Heating + Air.

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