How to Prepare Your Air Conditioner For Winter

After enjoying a nice, long and warm summers' worth of crisp, cool air throughout your home, your A/C's hardware is finally in line to get some downtime as it will (very likely) hibernate throughout the fall and winter seasons. Just because your furnace is taking over your homes vents does not mean you should forget about your air conditioning hardware until you need to use it again... We have heard entirely too many stories from callers who regretted practicing their "set it and forget it" philosophy with their A/C units, only to learn of minimal preparations that could have been utilized in preparation for the changing seasons.

To help ensure that your central air conditioning equipment is raring to go next summer, we recommend taking the small steps we will delve into, below, in order to protect your air conditioning unit.

Despite most equipment being engineered to withstand the extreme temperatures that Canadians face every winter, some (although quite minimal) maintenance is still recommended.

Although your air conditioner is able to withstand snow, rain, ice, and debris (to a degree) we highly recommend following through with the most important, and least demanding task on our to-do list, before winter hits.

Turn off your air conditioner's power. Your A/C can potentially use power on phantom loads, and unplugging it will ensure that your air conditioner will not consume electricity by simply being plugged into an outlet. Practicing this can save you not only a bit of money, but will also extend the life of your central air conditioner's circuitry.

We also recommend unplugging your central air conditioner for reasons pertaining to preventing human error, as well as minimizing problems that may arise from a malfunctioning thermostat.

In other words, unplugging your air conditioner will prevent it from "accidentally" turning on if someone in your home fiddles with the wrong settings, or even if your thermostat goes haywire.

If an air conditioner suddenly starts to operate in the middle of a snow storm and thus causes water to penetrate the system, it can freeze inside your unit, while cycling through, and cause you major headaches, and potentially cause your A/C to break down altogether. If you are reading this blog because this happened to you, turn off your central unit and give us a call so we can send a technician over to gauge (and repair, if necessary) any damage.


Air conditioner covers:

Although not completely necessary, a custom manufactured air conditioner cover for your specific central A/C unit is a worthy investment.

Adequate protection against weathering will, in turn, prolong your central air conditioning unit's lifespan by reducing wear and tear on its outer metallic components, which is typically caused when components repeatedly freeze and thaw. Further, your cover can be reused again and again, over the span of many years, as they are generally very durable and easy to clean, after being used. Whatever form of protective cover you decide on will, in the long run, very likely save you money on maintenance fees and manual labour / repair costs for your air conditioner (Although Smart Home Works doesn't actually charge maintenance fees - our equipment rentals are 100% covered.) If you don't have an A/C unit cover specifically made for your model, we suggest at least covering the top of your unit with.

You can create a cover for you air conditioner using any of the following materials:

  • A water resistant board (plywood is easy to come by)
  • Heavy duty construction bags
  • A tarp from an old tent
  • Any sort of pre-cut tarp to prevent debris from entering the unit through the top.
      outdoor air conditioner cover bbq backyard

    Allow a foot of space between the bottom of your tarp and the ground

    If you are putting together your own A/C cover (#DIY lovers can't resist), an important thing to consider is that your cover may be seen as a cozy shelter to critters such as squirrels, mice and skunks, among others. You can help to avoid adopting a "fight club" in your side yard by ensuring that there is at least one foot of space between the ground and the bottom of your "tarp". By leaving a foot of space, you will promote airflow through the tarp, diminishing its capacity to provide shelter for animals. Further, having proper air flow beneath your cover will permit moisture to escape, which will reduce rusting as well as wear and tear. Accumulated moisture can, with changing temperatures, damage the outer components of your air conditioning unit.

    If weather permits, we recommend intermittently checking under the A/C cover in order to proactively remove any debris that has made its way inside. Weights, such as a brick or two on top of the unit may prevent your cover (or tarp / plank) from blowing off due to high wind speeds.


    If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us for answers.


    Thanks for reading!