Preparing Your Air Conditioner for Winter: Cover Up or Keep It Open?
While other HVAC components stay warm and dry indoors, your air conditioner condenser and compressor unit spends the winter out in the backyard or next to the house. Along with the compressor and other critical electronics, the condensing unit occupies the outdoor cabinet through the cold and wet conditions of a long Mid-Atlantic winter. Fortunately, today’s A/C technology is designed to weather most of what winter can throw at it. Still, the homeowner can bolster that built-in protection with a few simple preventive measures to make sure that when the weather warms up again, your air conditioner condenser is ready for action.
Wrapping the unit to make it weather-tight may actually increase the potential for damage over the season. When thinking about seasonal maintenance to repel debris and windblown snow and rain, keep these guidelines in mind:
Moisture accumulating inside a tightly wrapped cabinet rusts metal components, degrades rubber seals and belts, and corrodes electrical connections.
- The sheltered environment inside the wrapped enclosure is a magnet for rats and squirrels that chew wiring and destroy electronics.
- Custom-fitted covers are available for most makes and models of air conditioners. These incorporate vent openings to allow air circulation and prevent moisture accumulation, while still protecting components from rain and snow.
- Before covering the unit for the winter, clear out any summer debris such as grass clippings that have accumulated inside the side intake grilles.
- Air conditioners located close to exterior walls are directly in the path of icicles falling from the gutters and eaves. These sharp, heavy objects can dent the condenser cabinet and damage the exhaust fan grille. A sheet of plywood cut to size can be placed atop the cabinet to provide impact protection.
- Continuous weight can damage the condenser cabinet. Keep an eye on the unit throughout the cold season and maintain it free of accumulations of heavy snow or ice.
At Sobieski Services, we’re here to see homeowners through all seasons with trusted advice and sales and service expertise. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems).
Image Credit: Martin Cathrae