That first crisp breeze of Fall makes the air conditioner an instant memory. Deep into winter, you’ll have forgotten it even exists.
Did you know that one of the top reasons for HVAC failure is debris? Autumn is the season of falling debris: leaves, sticks, and pinecones. It’s called Fall for a reason.
Keeping the junk out of your AC unit is as simple as having a plan for AC preventative maintenance.
Get ready for winter with this HVAC maintenance checklist.
While your air conditioner is off for the winter, turn off its power supply.
There is an exterior power circuit near the HVAC unit, the kind that has a flip-top metal or plastic lid. Change the switch to “off” and put the lid back down. You’ll feel like you’re in Jurassic Park shutting down the T-Rex fence.
Cutting power to your unit eliminates the risk of electrocution during maintenance tasks. It also prevents the air conditioner from kicking on during a warmer winter day and accumulating water that could freeze inside its tubes and pipes.
The best part about turning off the circuit is a lower electric bill. No electricity to the unit means no standby power usage.
Seal your AC vents for the winter. This cuts down on drafts and helps your furnace work more efficiently. Keep the cold air out in the cold.
Get your unit cleaned up. Knock back accumulated leaves and twigs with a broom.
Then use your garden hose to rinse away bugs, bird droppings, and general debris. Don’t use a pressure washer unless you want to risk damaging the fins. Allow the unit to dry completely.
This basic heating and air maintenance task helps to prevent breakdowns from clogged components.
Make sure there is at least 2 feet of clearance around your unit. Give it space. Get back in there with your broom and sweep everything out.
This maximizes airflow through the condenser, making it more efficient and preventing damage and rust. It also deters mice and other small animals from nesting and gnawing at your unit. Mice!
Do a general sight inspection. Check for rust, cracks, leaks, and any other signs of damage. Check for tight seals.
If you do spot problems, contact a professional to do routine HVAC preventative maintenance.
Protect exposed pipes and wiring. Pay special attention to pipes that run inside. Cut foam pipe covers to fit and secure them with duct tape.
This ensures that pipes won’t freeze and crack in low temperatures.
It’s important to protect your HVAC system from the winter elements. A thick layer of snow can damage fan blades and coil fins. It also promotes rust, which is no one’s friend.
Cut a square of plywood to fit the top of your AC unit. Weigh it down with something heavy so it doesn’t blow off. This is the best defense against leaves and snow or falling ice, which can come down hard.
Cover the whole thing with a breathable cover designed for AC use. Plastic tarps may save money, but they don’t let moisture escape.
Go visit your lonely air conditioner.
Do a regular spot-check throughout the winter. Keep the cover clean of snow and debris. You don’t want unnecessary weight piling up and putting strain on the system.
The air ducts in an HVAC system get dirty with use. Think of all the Lego men and cheerios that accumulate in your floor vents! Ducts are also prone to leaking.
To assess for leaky ducts, turn your air on and run your hands along the ductwork. Get your hands wet to make them more sensitive to blowing air.
If you find a leak, tape it up. Clean the area first, and use aluminum foil tape designed for duct work. This time we’re talking actual tape for ducts, not duct tape.
This is also a good time to check for wet spots. Wet spots indicate blockage and are prime spots for mold. Call for service right away if this is a problem in your home.
Regular preventative maintenance is your main defense against HVAC failure. Lots of it you can do yourself.
Here’s a routine maintenance checklist:
Your HVAC system needs to be professionally inspected at the beginning and end of the cooling season. A professional can access wiring and inner components of the unit for cleaning that are hard to get to.
It’s important to have your air conditioner checked for leaks, pressure, and air flow. A professional will also tighten electrical connections.
While it’s tempting to DIY repairs, some HVAC mechanisms require special tools and special handling procedures. A capacitor, for example, has to be discharged to prevent electric shock. There are burn risks and wiring risks, even the risk of puncture wounds.
Don’t neglect your air conditioner in the winter just because it’s taking some time off. Get it cleaned and covered so it’s ready when you need it.
Check everything off your HVAC maintenance checklist and let us help get your system in tip-top shape. Schedule your routine inspection today.