How to Prepare Your AC for Winter

Sweater weather. Cranberry sauce. Pumpkin Spice Lattes. The sound of leaves crunching underfoot. The signs are real. Summer is officially over and it’s time to transition from cool to cozy.

We all know how to prepare for colder weather – thicker coats, thermal undershirts, woolly socks, the whole kit and caboodle. But when it comes to our air conditioners, the checklist for winter preparation isn’t quite as familiar. The following describes a few things to do before your unit gets attacked by snow, freezing rain and sleet. If you procrastinate, there’s a chance it might not be the same come next summer.

First things first. Turn it off. It’s Canada. You won’t need it for the next six months (at least). This will keep the air conditioner from turning on during an unseasonably warm day and keep any resulting water from damaging the condensing unit. Most importantly, it will prevent the risk of electrocution as you perform maintenance tasks.

Next, prepare your air conditioner for hibernation. Give it a good rinse with a hose. Let it dry.

Clear all the branches, grass, pinecones, bugs and dust using a vacuum with a soft brush attachment, leaving a three-foot clearance on all sides. Gently straighten any bent fins. Unscrew the top grill, lift out the fan (without bending or disconnecting wires) and remove any debris from the interior. Change the air filter. Look for cracks, rust, leaks and other irregularities in the casing.

And finally, turn it back on for a minute or two to listen to the compressor for any unusual noises such as buzzing, clunking or grinding. If you’d rather have a professional take care of all this, Enercare can send out a TSSA certified and licensed technician under our Cooling Maintenance Plan.

Once the air conditioner has been cleaned, it’s ready to be covered. This will protect the unit from debris, falling ice and other buildup that can get lodged in the unit over the winter. Ideally, you’d be able to obtain a cover from the same manufacturer as your unit.  If that’s not an option, use a bungee cord to tie down a waterproof vinyl cover that goes down over the side about 6 inches.

It’s important that this length is not exceeded otherwise the cover might become a quaint room and board for local animals.

If your unit has any exterior exposed pipes, insulate them with foam covers and zip-ties to protect them from harsh temperatures.

And you’re done!

Your air conditioner is now ready for winter. Just make sure to check the cover every now and then. Plus, it’s always a good idea to double check for debris throughout the winter as any kind of buildup could trap moisture in the machine.