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How to Shut Down Your Air Conditioner for the Fall

Wise homeowners know that old mantra “out of sight, out of mind” tends to backfire when it comes to their appliances. If you ignore the maintenance of an appliance because it’s out of sight, it will almost certainly make its presence known, most often in the form of a repair bill.

This is especially true of the most complex appliance in your home: your central air conditioner. By fall, your AC is probably out of sight, out of mind due to its lack of use, which is precisely why fall is the time to ensure that you’ve properly shut it down for the long winter ahead. Doing so will help ensure that it’s in the best shape possible when you need it next year.

Follow these five steps to shut down your air conditioner when you no longer need it:

Turn off the Exterior Power

Open the lid on the condensing unit (the outdoor unit), look for the shut-off box (usually located on the exterior wall of the unit) and flip the switch. Shutting off the power will ensure that your air conditioner will not turn on if someone accidentally turns the thermostat to “cool” during the winter. More significantly, it will prevent water from pooling inside the unit, freezing and potentially causing damage to the components. Of course, make sure to turn the system back on again in the spring when it heats up again.

Clean the Condensing Unit

Fall is a great time to enforce your 2-foot “clear zone” above the unit and the 8-foot zone around it by removing leaves, twigs and branches that could blow into or under the unit during the winter. It’s also a good time to cut back hanging tree branches and encroaching shrubs. Once your unit is in the clear, sweep dirt away from the unit and grab a garden hose to wash off the components with a gentle stream of water.

Inspect the Exterior

A dirt-free unit can help expose any damage or cracks, which you always want to get repaired before they get worse. Check to see that the seals are tight, too. Trust your good instincts as you inspect the condensing unit because if something looks suspicious, it probably is.

Protect the Unit

There are two schools of thought about the choice to cover an air conditioner for the winter. People who like them say they provide a layer of protection against winter weather. People who dislike them say they heighten the risk of water getting trapped inside the condensing unit, which could lead to frozen water, corrosion or mold. Covers also can provide a safe haven for animals, who could build nests within them. Your decision may well rest on where your air conditioner is located on your property and if there are any other shielding elements in the vicinity. At the very least, place a piece of plywood over the top of the unit to act as a guard against falling ice.

Insulate the Pipes

Wrap the pipes that link your air conditioner to your home with foam insulating strips and secure the ends with duct tape to prevent water from freezing.

Schedule Fall HVAC Maintenance in Chester County

Autumn is primetime to shut down air conditioners and start up heaters. Signature HVAC can help with both! We can winterize your air conditioner and maintain your furnace or heater to prepare your home for heating season. Both steps are vital to keeping your HVAC system in tip-top shape, regardless of the season.

Sign up for our maintenance agreement so that you never miss a tune-up!

Contact us now to schedule heating maintenance in West Chester, Media, or the surrounding area!

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