As the leaves start changing colour and the temperature starts to drop in Ottawa, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your home for winter. One essential task that often gets overlooked is winterizing your air conditioning (AC) unit. Taking the proper steps to prepare your AC for winter can help prolong its life, ensure it works efficiently when you need it next summer, and save you money on energy bills and potential repairs.
- Clean or Replace the Air Filter
Your AC’s air filter traps dust, dirt, and other particles, keeping them from entering your home and your AC system. Over time, the filter can become clogged and reduce your system’s efficiency. Before winter, clean or replace your air filter to ensure your AC is ready for the next cooling season. If you live in a particularly dusty area or have pets, you might need to replace your filter more often. A clean air filter will also improve the air quality in your home.
- Clean the Outdoor Unit
Over the summer, dirt, leaves, and other debris can accumulate on and around your outdoor unit. This debris can restrict airflow and cause your system to work harder than necessary. Use a garden hose to gently rinse the debris off the unit, and then remove any remaining debris by hand. Be careful not to bend any of the fins on the coil. It is also a good idea to trim any shrubs or plants that are too close to the unit to ensure proper airflow.
- Cover the Outdoor Unit
Once the outdoor unit is clean, cover it with a breathable, waterproof cover. This will help protect it from snow, ice, and other winter elements. Make sure the cover fits snugly but is not too tight, as this could trap moisture and lead to rust or mold. Specialized AC covers are available that are designed to fit your unit perfectly.
- Inspect the Insulation
The insulation on the refrigerant lines should be intact and in good condition to ensure your system operates efficiently. If you notice any areas where the insulation is damaged or missing, replace it before winter. Proper insulation will also help prevent your pipes from freezing in extremely cold temperatures.
- Turn Off the Power
To ensure your outdoor unit does not accidentally turn on during the winter, turn off the power to the unit. There should be a switch or circuit breaker near the outdoor unit that you can turn off. This will also help prevent any electrical issues that could arise from moisture getting into the unit. Alternatively you can switch off your air conditioning using your thermostat. This step is crucial as it will also help prevent any electrical complications that could result from moisture entering the unit.
- Schedule a Professional Maintenance Check
Finally, it is always a good idea to have a professional HVAC technician inspect your system before winter. They can check for any potential issues and make sure your system is ready for the next cooling season. A professional can also check your thermostat to make sure it is working properly and calibrate it if necessary.
- Check for Air Leaks
Check your home for any air leaks around windows and doors. Caulk any gaps you find to prevent cold air from entering your home and warm air from escaping. This will help your heating system operate more efficiently and save you money on energy bills.
- Clean Your Ducts
Over time, dust, dirt, and other debris can accumulate in your ductwork. This can restrict airflow and cause your heating and cooling systems to work harder than necessary. Before winter, have your ducts professionally cleaned to ensure your system operates efficiently.
- Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature in your home for different times of the day. This means you can set your home to be cooler when you are away or asleep and warmer when you are home and awake. This can help save on energy bills and ensure your home is always at a comfortable temperature.
Preparing your AC for winter in Ottawa is an important task that can help prolong its life and ensure it operates efficiently next summer. By following these simple steps, you can protect your investment and save money on energy bills and potential repairs. Remember we are always availablel if you are unsure about any of the steps or need assistance.