Good for you, obviously you’re a responsible homeowner doing the research that really counts.
Long story short: the significance of maintaining your AC during the winter months is HUGE.
The cooler weather is beginning to set in, and yes, your indoor AC is about to essentially hibernate, but that doesn’t mean YOUR job’s finished.
If you want your HVAC system to last and perform well for the entirety of its service lifespan, then prepping the unit for this time of year is paramount.
In this article we’re going to go through a number of options; both things some homeowners choose to do on their own, or here in Northern California they give us a call – Service Champions.
Changing Your Filters
In an ideal world, we’d have you changing your filters every 90 days or so depending on the season and how it’s been. Some years are worse than others in terms of what’s being filtered. The big risk here is that old or clogged filters are basically just spreading their dirt, dust, allergens and who knows what else through your home. Plus, new filters typically pay for themselves by increasing your energy efficiency overall throughout the entire year.
Staying On Top of AC Coils/Fins
Like any other mechanical system, dirt and other particles get pulled in, attracted and built up. As this happens it incrementally reduces the amount of airflow, which in turn makes it so the coiling absorbs less and less heat. If the coil fins (and those in the condenser) are bent or damaged, this can also cause all kinds of issues. Our technicians always check this during every AC Repair or Maintenance call.
With outdoor condensers it’s best to keep them as clear of dirt and debris as possible, especially during the autumn (with leaves everywhere) and winter before the snow starts piling up.
Here in Northern California, some areas get decent snow once a year, but temperatures can really drop and the last thing you want is for a bunch of debris to get frozen inside. Also, look for any overgrowth from the previous growth season that’s hanging too closely to the unit and trim it back.
Cover & Protect The Central AC Unit
Having a cover for your outdoor AC unit is a spectacular way to protect it, but you need to be careful. First, ensure it’s an appropriate cover. Second, ensure that it’s critter-proof, because during the cold months your covered AC unit looks like an amazing place to set up shop.
Running Your AC In The Winter
One question our HVAC technicians are asked a lot is,
“Should I run my AC unit over the wintertime, sort of like running my car engine so the block doesn’t freeze?”
And well, the answer could be yes or no depending on a number of variables. On the one side, running your AC occasionally during the winter will help to dehumidify your home when the windows and doors start collecting moisture. It also keeps it free of ice and snow, and should help to ensure it’ll be working well when the summertime comes.
In some circumstances the oil can get thick and collect, rather than being run through the system. This is what leads to a ‘dry start’ when the weather gets warm and you go to switch it on for the first time.
On the other side of the equation, you don’t want to overheat your compressor by running it too much in the winter when the oil may be, again, thicker than normal.
Inspect Your Drains
As your AC unit’s condenser does what it does, it produces condensation. This is channeled through a drain hose that can get plugged. Check it before, during, and after the winter to ensure it stays clear. At the same time you can keep the drain clear, because the last thing you want is a bunch of decaying matter building up around your AC unit.
Check The AC-Related Insulation
Where your AC connects to your home should have insulation around it that helps to keep the cold air where it’s supposed to be. Before the winter it’s a good time to check that insulation to see if there’s any damaged (rotten) areas or gaps.
Check The AC Pad Concrete
If your AC unit sits atop a concrete pad, you’ll want to keep an eye on it. Especially if this is a new home or relatively newly-installed unit. Over time these pads can sink/crack for a variety of reasons, and in doing so can cause all sorts of problems for the AC unit – in other words your checking account.
Wrapping Up: Don’t Forget Your AC Tuneup
Ultimately the significance of properly maintaining your AC unit during winter months is you get better performance for longer, saving money on both repairs and your energy bill throughout the year.
For thousands upon thousands of homeowners and their families across Northern California, Service Champions handles all of this as part of our Maintenance Value Plan (MVP). If you’re interested, contact us today and find out more. Otherwise, keep your AC unit in great condition throughout the winter so it’s there for you with shining colors when summer hits.