If you have an outdoor central air conditioning compressor, sometimes also referred to as an HVAC unit, you can't underestimate the importance of winterization. A little bit of preparation makes a big difference for protecting the system against the snow, ice and cold temperatures that the winter season can bring. Additionally, it will help you to keep rust at bay, which ensures that the system will function as it is intended when the temperatures climb again after the spring thaw. Here are a few tips to help you protect your compressor from the cold winter ahead.
Shut Off the Power
The first thing you need to do is shut off the power to the air conditioner. Look for the power circuit near the air conditioning unit. It's usually covered by a hinged metal or plastic cover. Open the cover, and then flip the power switch off. This ensures that the compressor won't turn on if you experience an unusually warm day during the winter. Shutting it down keeps water out of the compressor, so you don't risk any additional water buildup in the unit. It's important to keep the water out, otherwise it could freeze inside the compressor and cause damage.
Clean the Unit
Use a hose to clean the outside of the air conditioning unit. You'll want to clean off any bird droppings, dust, dirt, or bugs. Pull out any leaves, grass, or branches that may be stuck around it as well. It's important that the whole thing is clean so you don't risk any corrosion over the winter. Let the compressor dry completely before you do anything else.
Insulate the Pipes
Cover all of the pipes and tubes that run from the compressor to the house with a foam insulation material. Pipe covers or something similar would be sufficient. Cut it to length so that it fits each tube or pipe perfectly. If necessary, keep the pipes in place with duct tape. This protects the pipes from any freezing damage.
Cover the Unit
Wrap a plastic or vinyl cover over the air conditioning unit. You'll want a cover that's made from waterproof material so that any snow melt cannot seep into the unit. You can even buy covers that are specifically designed for air conditioners, but any oversized tarp covering will work provided that it's large enough to cover the whole unit and it's waterproof. Secure the cover on the unit with bungee cords or vinyl ropes. This keeps the cover from blowing away in the event of a heavy wind storm.
For more advice about protecting your air conditioning unit from the winter weather, talk with an HVAC maintenance technician such as McKinney Heating & Air Conditioning.