Take care of your air conditioner during the winter

Steps to Get Your AC Unit Ready for Winter

As winter’s chill fades away and a new season emerges, it’s time to put your air conditioner back into action. Be prepared to give your HVAC system some attention this spring to ensure smooth operation all summer long. After all, air conditioning unit cost is a substantial investment, and maintaining it properly increases its lifespan and efficiency. Here are 10 steps to get your AC unit ready for spring and summer.

Air Conditioning Maintenance in Seattle, WA

1. Remove the AC Cover if You Used One

Start by removing any covers or plywood boards you installed last fall to protect the outdoor AC unit from harsh winter weather. These keep snow and ice out, but turning the system on while covered could cause irreversible damage, so don’t forget this step.

2. Restore Power to Your Air Conditioner

If you turned off the power to prevent accidentally running your AC during the winter, it’s safe to restore power now that you have removed the cover. Depending on how you shut it off last winter, you’ll need to flip the wall switch near the condensing unit or restore power to the circuit breaker at the main electrical panel.

3. Clear the Area Around the Condensing Unit

The outdoor condensing unit releases the heat absorbed from your home’s interior, making it a fundamental part of the air conditioning process. To work efficiently, the condensing unit needs room to “breathe.” So clear the area around it of dead leaves, twigs, or other debris that may have collected over the winter months. Also, assess the surrounding vegetation now and throughout the summer, trimming it regularly to keep it at least 12 to 24 inches away from the unit.

4. Check for Damage

Condensing units are robust, but harsh winter weather may take its toll. Look for rust, dents, or other physical damage to the unit. Then, check the insulation wrapped around the copper piping leading from the unit through the wall. If it appears damaged, replace it before the cooling season starts in earnest.

5. Clean the Condensing Unit

On a relatively warm day, spray down the unit with your garden hose to wash away cobwebs, dirt, and other debris stuck to the metal fins. While you’re at it, straighten any bent fins with a fin comb or a butter knife. These fins facilitate heat transfer, so clearing away debris and making sure they’re straight boosts performance and lowers your energy costs.

6. Replace the Air Filter

Step back inside your home now and locate the HVAC air filter, which should be near the indoor AC unit and blower motor. When the filter becomes clogged, your air conditioner must work harder to push air through. A simple yet effective way to maintain your unit’s efficiency is to replace the filter at the onset of spring and every one to three months throughout the rest of the year.

7. Clean the Air Vents

Dust and debris on your return and supply registers can enter your HVAC system, restricting airflow and affecting indoor air quality. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to dust the grilles and louvers. Then, ensure all your vents are open and unobstructed for the best airflow and system balance.

8. Adjust the Thermostat Settings

Switch your thermostat from heating to cooling mode and set the temperature to a comfortable level for the season. The Department of Energy (DOE) recommends setting the temperature to 78 degrees while you’re home and 85 to 88 degrees when you’re away for more than eight hours. If you have a programmable thermostat, this is a good time to revisit your settings, adapting them to your spring schedule for maximum energy savings and comfort.

9. Test the AC While the Weather is Still Mild

It’s wise to test your air conditioner before winter’s chill fades completely. This way, you have time to identify and fix any issues before you start relying heavily on your AC for indoor comfort.

10. Schedule Annual Maintenance

The final step is to schedule professional air conditioning maintenance. A trained technician will perform comprehensive checks, performing tasks beyond what a homeowner can do, such as measuring the refrigerant charge, testing for and fixing leaks, cleaning the indoor evaporator coil, and running a safety test. Regular maintenance helps prevent unexpected breakdowns, extends the life of your air conditioning unit, and boosts efficiency.

As one of Seattle’s most trusted HVAC contractors, Olson Energy Service is here to serve you. Our family-owned and operated business dates back to 1926, a testament to our legacy and commitment to customer service. During your AC maintenance visit, we’ll check all system components, diagnose underlying issues, and answer any questions you have, ensuring your air conditioner is ready to deliver comfortable, cool air all spring and summer long. To schedule your next visit with us, please call 206.782.5522 or contact us online today.