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Your AC unit worked hard all summer long, and now it’s the furnace’s turn to keep your home and family comfortable. This means you’re probably focused on furnace maintenance tasks, such as cleaning dust and dirt from the heating equipment, avoiding carbon monoxide leaks, and removing any stored items from around the furnace to prevent fire hazards.

Summer is still months away, but that doesn’t mean you should let your air conditioner fall into disrepair. Make sure it’s ready to get back to work when warm weather returns with these tips for maintaining your AC during winter.

Clear Away Debris

When you’re confident you won’t need the air conditioner again this season, it’s time to retire it for the winter. Before you do, clear away any leaf litter, twigs, pine needles, and other debris from around the unit.

This is an important air conditioner care tip because it discourages critters from hiding under the leaves that have piled up inside your air conditioner. It also helps prevent the mold, fungus, and slime that grow on decomposing leaf litter from getting inside your AC unit. You may need to clean up around your air conditioner multiple times until all the leaves have fallen off the trees and been bagged and removed from your yard.

Clean off the AC Unit

With all the loose debris cleared away, you can examine the condition of your air conditioning unit. It’s probably dusty, might have a few bent condenser fins, and may even be caked with mud. Cleaning the unit before retiring it in the winter is a key preventative maintenance step.

If it’s warm enough outside, gently hose the unit off. Be careful not to bend any of the fins with high-pressure water. In fact, after hosing off the unit, you should examine the fins more closely and straighten any that have bent flat. A fin comb is the best tool for the job, but you can also use a butter knife. You’ll thank yourself next spring when the straight fins on your AC unit provide enhanced cooling performance.

Cover the AC Unit (or Not)

It isn’t always necessary to cover the outdoor portion of your air conditioner. Snow and freezing temperatures won’t harm the components. However, if you’re worried about falling icicles and other debris damaging your unit, you can explore ways to protect it.

The best option is simply to place a board on top of the unit, weighed down with a large rock or brick. If you want to cover the air conditioner don’t use a tarp or other makeshift material. Encasing the metal unit increases the risk of condensation, which could cause corrosion. Instead, buy a cover specifically designed to protect air conditioners. Some versions only cover the top of the unit, which is preferable because it avoids providing shelter for pests.

Replace the Air Filter

Perform this air conditioner maintenance task with every season change. A clean filter promotes good airflow whenever the HVAC unit runs. In the winter, this means more even heating throughout every room in your home. Remember to change the filter again in the spring to ensure more efficient cooling once summer arrives.

If you’re concerned about indoor air quality, consider upgrading to a more efficient air filter this winter. Most HVAC systems come with a filter rated between 1 and 4 Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). At this rating, the filter only traps the largest airborne particles, preventing them from landing on and possibly damaging sensitive HVAC equipment.

While this is the primary purpose of an HVAC filter, using one rated between MERV 5 and 8 traps increasingly smaller and smaller particles to improve your indoor air quality without restricting airflow. The MERV scale goes all the way to 20, but anything above12 is reserved for commercial applications, such as hospitals and smoking lounges.

Remove or Seal Window AC Units

If you have window air conditioners, the best choice is to remove them when winter comes. Store the unit in its original box, if possible. Then, place the box in a dry, protected space, such as on a shelf in the garage or basement. If you prefer not to remove the window AC units, seal around them with foam insulation and weatherstripping to minimize heat loss.

Schedule Air Conditioner Maintenance When Spring Arrives

The above suggestions to maintain your AC during the winter are proven to start the cooling season off right. Another critical step is to schedule air conditioner maintenance with a professional technician. After all, while DIY maintenance is important, it doesn’t replace the in-depth services the pros can provide.

Choose Triple T Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for all your HVAC maintenance needs. Our EPA-certified technicians perform a comprehensive, 32-point cooling system tune-up to get your system up and running just in time for warmer weather. We also offer yearly service programs for maximum savings and convenience. Rest assured that our family-oriented business prioritizes the health and comfort of your family at all times!

Give us a call at 801-798-7711 if you live in Utah County, dial 435-275-4011 if you’re a Washington County resident, or contact us online to schedule air conditioner maintenance with us today.