How to Winterize an Outdoor Air Conditioning Unit

Leaves start to change, Summer turns into Fall, and it’ll be chilly before you know it! That means it’s almost time to pack up the air conditioner and break out the heater instead. But how do you protect your outdoor AC unit from the frigid temps and make sure it’s in working order for next summer? We’re here to help!

Why winterize an air conditioning unit?

For central split systems, winterizing the outdoor unit can prevent weather-related damage and make it easier to start up your air conditioning in the spring. It can keep water, snow, sleet, and ice from entering the unit and causing internal problems. This saves you from costly repairs down the line and helps keep your unit in working order.

Turn the Power Off

Before performing any kind of maintenance or cleaning, make sure to shut off the power to the unit. You can turn off the unit by switching off the power at the electrical circuit. The circuit usually has a plastic or metal lid.

Shutting the unit off ensures it won’t turn on when you’re working with it. This also prevents the unit from starting on a warm winter day, which could lead to water forming in the unit, freezing overnight, and causing internal damage.

*We recommend contacting an HVAC technician to perform any maintenance or repairs.

Clean Your Condenser

Clear any dirt, dust, and debris from around the condenser. This includes twigs, leaves, plastic wrappers, and grass clippings. After shutting off the power to the unit, a professional may wash away dirt, bugs, and other debris with potential to clog the unit.

Cover the Unit

Many units were designed to withstand extreme weather so this topic remains hotly debated, but you can choose to cover your unit during the winter. This helps keep out snow, rain, and ice that may cause damage.

Many manufacturers design covers just for this purpose but tread lightly. Often, animals can hibernate in the cover, and condensation or moisture can form. This can lead to rust or corrosion and cause damage.

Instead, cover only the top of the condenser to prevent falling ice, snow, hail, or other precipitation from getting inside. Choose a cover that allows the system to breath and won’t trap in moisture.

Check the Unit

During the winter, make sure to check the unit weekly. Clear any snow or ice that accumulates. Check for any debris inside the unit like branches, leaves, and animal nests. Remove any debris around the unit and adjust the cover as needed.

Additional tips:

  • If you use a mini split system to provide heat during the winter, you may need to periodically switch it to defrost mode to remove frost from the outdoor coil.
  • If you use a window unit, remove it and store it in an indoor location. Place it in an upright position to prevent damage to the compressor.
  • Clean or replace the filter in your air conditioning unit so when you need it, you’ll have a fresh, clean filter.
In need of a new air conditioning unit for next summer? Looking for a heater for the winter? We’ve got you covered! HomElectrical carries a wide variety of air conditioners, heaters, and accessories to help you find what you need.
Avery Dietzen
Avery Dietzen

Originally from Wisconsin, Avery earned her degree in English before making the trip down to the Atlanta, GA area. Writer by day, reader by night, she prides herself on having a creative outlook and tries to instill that in everything she writes. As a content writer for HomElectrical, she uses her skills to share tips and tricks about lighting, HVAC, and going green. If she’s not writing, she’s reading, painting, hanging out with her dog, or spending time with family and friends.

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