Preparing Your Central Air Conditioning System For Winter

If you have a central air conditioning system in your home, you need to take steps to prepare it for storage during the off-season so it works properly when warmer weather begins again. Routine air conditioning system maintenance can be done on your own with the help of a few household tools and a bit of time. Here are some guidelines to follow when preparing your air conditioning system for the winter.

Start By Disconnecting

Before you do maintenance to your air conditioning system, it is important there is no live electricity running to any of the portions that power it. There should be a small power box located near your condenser on the exterior of your home. Open the box and disable the electricity to your air conditioner's condenser. This is done by either flipping a switch or taking out a fuse. Next, turn off the central air conditioning at the main electrical service panel in your home. Wait several minutes before starting your maintenance so any electrical charge that was present in the capacitors inside the unit will have time to dissipate. 

You will also need to turn off the power to your furnace so you can clean out the evaporator. This switch will be located on the wall near the furnace, usually on a red or black switch plate. Turn off the furnace at the main electrical service panel as well.

Give The Condenser A Cleaning

The condenser should be completely cleaned out to remove any debris that had built-up within the unit over the summer. Remove the grille that covers the condenser coils. This can be taken off using a screwdriver. Use a wet/dry vacuum with a soft-bristle brush attachment to gently remove any debris from the fins. 

Vacuum around the fan motor to keep it unobstructed. Turn the fan by hand as you vacuum so that any embedded particles will be loosened and removed. If the fan looks particularly dirty, wipe down each blade using a clean piece of cloth that has been dipped in a mild detergent/water solution. Allow to dry completely before putting the grille back into place. Place a heavy-duty cover over the condenser to keep it free from precipitation when winter sets in.

Remove Grime From The Evaporator

After you finish with the outside portion of your air conditioning system, move on to the evaporator. This is usually located above your furnace. If you are able to access the coils beneath the evaporator, use a wet/dry vacuum with a soft-bristled brush attachment to remove any dirt build-up. Most likely this portion will be enclosed and will need to be cleaned by an air conditioning repair service the next time you decide to have your system checked for performance.

Remove the condensation tube that runs from the evaporator to the water pump. Dip this into a bucket of warm water to help loosen any algae that may have formed inside. Hook one of the tubes up to a sink faucet and direct the other end to the drain. Allow water to run through the tube to rinse any dirt down the drain. Allow to dry and replace. Change the air filter by sliding out the old one and sliding in a new one. You can now turn back on your furnace so it is ready to use for the winter. Keep your air conditioner powered off until weather gets warmer once again.

For more advice and information, speak with professionals like HomeSmart From Xcel Energy.