How to Protect your Central Air Conditioning System in the Winter

After a long hot summer of pumping cool air into your home, it is finally time to give your central air conditioning system a much needed break. Before you switch the “cool” setting off on your thermostat and forget about air conditioning for the next several months, there are a few important steps you should take to protect your AC unit over the winter.

Central air conditioning units are built to be able to survive exposure to tough weather. In fact, many people find that their units work fine even though they do not take any preventative measures to protect their system during the winter. However, debris, moisture, build-up, and repeated freeze and thaw cycles may damage components inside of the unit itself. That is why it is better to take a few protective measures to keep the unit in top working condition:

1. Shut your AC system down for the winter by turning off its power.
2. Clean out the area around your unit. Clear any leaves, sticks, branches, bushes, clutter, or debris in the two to three foot radius around the air conditioner. This helps prevent clogging, rust, and damage.

To cover, or not to cover: that is the question

People frequently ask whether they should use an air conditioning cover or tarp over winter to protect their system. The problem with covering the unit is that moisture, condensation, and any residual debris get trapped inside. If you are concerned that falling leaves snow or ice may get into the system, cover the top of your unit with plywood. Put a brick or a large rock on top of that to keep it in place. This will prevent anything from getting into the system and protect it from snow and sleet.
It is a good idea to continue to check around your AC unit periodically to make sure the plywood is still in place and to clear out any debris.

Keeping your AC unit in good working condition doesn’t take long, but it does have long-term benefits.

If you need help preparing your system for winter, contact us!