2 Tips For Shutting Down Your Home's Central Air Conditioning Unit Before Winter

As the weather cools off, you don't need your home's air conditioner on as frequently. As this happens, you are probably thinking about shutting down the A/C unit soon and turning on the furnace. If so, use the following tips to shut down your residential air conditioning unit before the cold weather of fall and winter settles in.

1.  Flip the On/Off Switch on the A/C unit

When you start preparing the unit for the winter, the first step should always be to shut the power off using the On/Off switch on the unit itself. Simply turning the switch to the "Off" position on your thermostat is not enough.

If you only switch off the air conditioning on the thermostat, there is always a chance that the unit could inadvertently be turned on. If this were to happen during a snow or ice storm, the frozen precipitation could be sucked into the unit and cause permanent damage. 

Instead, find the On/Off switch on the unit itself, which is located near the compressor and is usually under a flip-up cover. You should also turn off the main breaker to the air conditioner unit to ensure that it is not accidentally turned on.

2.  Clean and Cover the Unit

Once the power is off, the next step in preparing your central air conditioning unit for the winter months is to clean and cover the unit. If you leave dirt, leaves, and other debris on and around the A/C unit, it could make their way into the vents and clog up the system.

To clean the unit's exterior, use a broom to sweep off any excess dust, dirt, and leaves. Then, trim away any bushes, branches, or weeds that are growing close to it. Once you have cleared away the loose dirt and debris, use a garden hose on a sunny day to clear away any stuck-on dirt. Do not use a pressure washer since it could damage the vents, fans, or compressor.

Once you are finished cleaning the unit, place a cover over the top of it—but not all the way down the sides. You can use either a store-bought one designed for your unit or thick plastic held in place with a piece of plywood on top. Do not cover the entire unit, as this would not allow for moisture evaporation and could lead to mold growth.

Along with using the tips above, you should also have the unit inspected by a professional before shutting down your air conditioner for the winter. Contact an HVAC contractor who offers residential air conditioning services to schedule an appointment so they can check out the A/C unit and fix any issues they find to make it ready for when you need it again the next year.