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How to Winterize an Air Conditioner

Get ready for winter by winterizing your central or window air conditioner.

As the weather gets colder, it’s time to start fall tasks to winterize your home. One of those tasks should be winterizing your air conditioner. If you have an air conditioner, it’s important to properly winterize it so it’s ready for next summer. With help from Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you (and your air conditioner) can be ready to take on the cold and snow.

How to Winterize an Air Conditioner
When winter starts creeping in, you’ll want your air conditioner to be prepared. With help from Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can learn how to winterize your air conditioner.

How to Winterize Split and Central Air Conditioners

If you have split or central air, you’ll need to get the outside condenser ready for snow, ice and everything that comes with winter weather.

1. Locate your air conditioner circuit, open the lid and turn off the power. By turning off the power, you’ll prevent the unit from clicking on if there’s an unexpected warm winter day. If not, water can get in the unit and freeze as cold conditions continue.

2. Remove any debris from the unit, and even a few feet around the unit. This includes leaves, twigs and dirt. Use a garden hose to spray debris off your unit.

3. Install rubber pipe insulation or tubular foam to protect pipes from freezing. Then cover the unit with an air conditioner cover or tarp. Use bungee cords to secure the cover. Throughout the winter remove ice, snow, water, leaves and other debris off the unit.

How to Winterize a Window Air Conditioner

Before you begin, you need to know you have two options for getting your window air conditioner ready for winter. First, you can take the window unit out and store it inside. Your second option is to leave it and shield it from the elements with an air conditioner cover. If you deal with harsh winters, it’s best to bring your unit inside. If you choose to do so, you’ll need to know how to store it.

1. Carefully remove the unit from your window. Window air conditioners can be quite heavy, so it’s best to have someone give you a hand lifting it.

2. Make sure you get rid of any debris gathered on the unit, especially leaves and dirt. You’ll then need to clean the coils. The cooling coils are in the front part that face inside your house. Remove the front grill and the filters to reach the cooling coils. Using a screwdriver, remove the back cover to get to the heating coils.

3. Using soap and hot water, scrub both sets of coils to clean up any debris. If the back of your air conditioner can’t be removed, you can use a garden hose to carefully spray it off. Tip the air conditioner on its side to drain and dry completely. As it dries, clean off the filters with a soft brush, soap and water. This is also a great time to replace old, tough-to-clean filters.

4. Once you’ve put the unit back together, it’s time to store it. If you removed it, cover it with a sheet or canvas drop cloth for extra protection. Store it somewhere warm and dry, and off the ground. If you left your unit in the window, cover it with an air conditioner cover or a sturdy plastic tarp. If  you use a tarp, secure it with bungee cords. To prevent cold air leaking into your home along the edge gaps, install weather stripping on the outside edge of the windows.


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