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“Should I Shut Down My AC for Fall and Winter?”

two-outdoor-ac-units-side-by-side

It’s that time of year again—temperatures are going down and you don’t need your air conditioning system to work as consistently anymore. It’s officially the time of year to start using your furnace or boiler instead of your central air conditioning system.

However, this doesn’t mean that your air conditioner can be ignored from this point on. Unless you’re actually using a heat pump system for your cooling and heating year-round, there are some things you need to do in order to shut down your air conditioner.

The steps we’re about to share below will help you protect your cooling system, ensuring that it’s in good shape next year when it’s time to have it maintained and use it again. Keep reading to learn about the steps of shutting down your AC for fall and winter.

Step 1: Manage Lingering Repairs

Before you do anything else, it’s important to look back and remember if you had any troubling AC symptoms this past summer. If you didn’t address those symptoms already, now is the time to do so.

No matter how early you get to turn off your air conditioner for the season, if it has any lingering malfunctions, they need to be taken care of now, before they have the chance to turn into an emergency, such as a complete breakdown of your air conditioner.

Step 2: Turn It Off

We aren’t just talking about switching your thermostat to “heating mode” instead of “cooling mode.” Yes, if you have a heat pump system, that’s all you’ll need to do. But this isn’t the case for a central air conditioner. The reason we recommend shutting your air conditioner all the way off is that if there is a brief heatwave and the AC cycles on, it risks sucking in ice and water into the outdoor unit.

To prevent this from occurring, you will need to shut your air conditioner completely off by locating the system’s breaker switch. This is usually found under a flip-up lid near the condenser unit. Open this lid and turn the switch to “off.”

Step 3: Clean Off and Around the Outdoor Unit

First, use a broom to gently brush off leaves, branches, lawn mulch, and any other debris around the condenser unit. Then, using a hose on low pressure, wash down the outside cabinet. It’s important to make sure that no debris is left within a couple of feet of the outdoor unit.

Step 4: Cover the Outdoor Unit

The last step in the process is to place a waterproof cover over the outside condenser unit in order to protect its interior from water, ice, and anything else that could get blown around by inclement weather, such as branches.

You can buy one of these covers at just about any hardware store. Alternatively, you can fashion your own cover using a tarp and ropes or bungee cords.

Following the above-mentioned steps is the best way to set your air conditioner up for success for when you need it again next spring.

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