Winter Air Conditioning Maintenance

13 January 2015
 Categories: , Articles

As the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall the last thing on your mind might be turning on your air conditioning. While cranking up the AC is probably a bad idea on a cold, blustery day, taking steps to protect your unit during the cold months is the opposite of a bad idea. The first time you need your air conditioner, you aren't going to want to deal with any issues. Here's how to make sure that doesn't happen.

For Evaporative Coolers

Evaporative coolers are an economical, environmentally friendly choice for many households. They require a little more maintenance from homeowners than compressed air coolers, though. 

  • They need to be drained when you're through with them. Leaving water in your cooler can warp the metal, breed insects and bacteria, and create rust.
  • Evaporative coolers need to be cleaned frequently, including at the end of the cooling season. The mesh side panels should be changed one last time, the inside wiped out, and the outside scrubbed of any hard water buildup.
  • These coolers also need to be stored properly. If you leave them up you greatly decrease your home's heating efficiency, and exposing these units to the elements year round can cause corrosion and breakdown of components long before they should wear out. Add appropriate air conditioner oil to your cooler one last time to prevent components from seizing up, and store it under a roof with a tarp over it.

For Central Units

Central, or compressed air coolers, are more expensive to install and operate, but require less work from the homeowner for upkeep. All that needs done is to have the unit serviced once a year, preferably before the cooling season begins. You can hire a company to service your equipment, or you can do it yourself by following these steps.

  • Clean the underside of the evaporator (usually located inside, near your furnace) with a stiff wire brush. This removes the buildup of constant use. 
  • Clean the condenser (usually located outside on concrete). Make sure no debris is blocking the airflow and remove dirt and detritus buildup. Open the unit and clean the coils with a commercial coil cleaner, and remove dirt from the fins. Make sure to cover your condensing unit with an appropriate condenser cover to keep it safe.

For Your Home

If you have a compressed air cooler, your home uses the same ducts to heat and cool your home. Cleaning out your ducts is very important to maintaining proper air flow and preventing things like:

  • Toxic mold growth in vents and ducts.
  • Animals such as birds and mice nesting in the vents.
  • Dust buildup. When dust builds up in the ducts your furnace or air conditioner will blow it all around your home, making allergy sufferers miserable.

If you can't remember the last time you had your home's ducts professionally cleaned it's definitely time to call someone in. Sometimes a problem with the furnace or air conditioner turns out to be nothing more than dirty ducts, and keeping the ducts clean will help reduce the work load of your system, preventing it from burning itself out before its time.

Winter might seem like a great time to forget all about your air conditioner, but responsible and proactive maintenance of your cooler will prevent you from having to sweat through the first hot day of the year. Now is the time to make sure your unit is well stored, clean, oiled, and ready to take on the challenges of next summer. Take a little time to make sure everything is in order now, and you won't be inconvenienced come spring.