As winter arrives, it is important to start the process of preparing the property for cold weather, snow, and ice. Placing outdoor items in storage to protect them from the weather is a good place to start. However, there are many items that cannot be safely stored away until the warmer months. Your air conditioning units are one of those items. Follow this guide to learn how to protect your residential A/C unit during the winter months.
A Central Air unit is typically located somewhere outside your home, close to one of the walls of the house. Since it's outside, it gets pretty dirty due to constant exposure to the weather. The first thing you should do to get it ready for winter is give it a thorough cleaning. Start by collecting any sticks, leaves, and other debris that has collected around or on the appliance. Use a brush and a bucket of soapy water to scrub the exterior of the unit.
Central Air units have pipes on them that can freeze when the weather drops too low. You can help prevent this by adding insulation around the unit. Any pipes that exposed need the most insulation. Foam pipe covers can be fitted over the pipes and are universal so they fit almost every A/C unit's pipes.
The best way to protect the A/C unit from snow and ice is to place a cover over it. You can use any tarpoline that is big enough to cover the top and sides and still have spare material left over. Secure the edges of the tarp with large rocks, bricks, or anything else that is heavy enough to hold it down so it cannot be dislodged by the wind. You may also use a cover designed specifically for your A/C unit if the manufacturer offers them.
Even though you have insulated and covered the unit, you should still inspect it regularly throughout winter. If you notice ice and snow building up on the A/C, you should remove it. The weight of the snow may damage it if it is left there too long.
Once the winter months have passed, you can remove the protection from the Central Air. It is recommended that you have a HVAC professional run a service check before using the unit just to make sure it is still running smoothly. You can also have your vents checked at this time as well, so your A/C system is ready to go when the warm weather returns.