5 Steps for Prepping You Outdoor AC Condensor Unit for Usage Now & How to Winterize it for Next Year
While your central air conditioning system's outdoor component is often referred to as the AC condensor unit, the truth is that it has many important functions that your AC relies on to run efficiently. It contains your AC's compressor, condensor coils and fans, and your cooling system's refrigerant lines run from inside your home out to this unit.
To help your cooling system work well, it is very important to keep your condensor unit in great shape and well-maintained. It makes the most sense to perform your condensor unit maintenance in the spring before you begin running it for the season and in the fall after you are finished using it for the season to protect it from the harsh winter elements.
If you just bought a home that came with a cooling system with an outdoor AC condensor unit or recently had it installed, then read to learn how to prep it for the summer and how to winterize it properly this fall to help keep it in great condition for many years.
Prepping Your Outdoor AC Condensor Unit for Summer
Before prepping your AC condensor unit for summer, it is important to learn about the parts it contains. Here is a basic diagram of a typical AC condensor unit and its parts, but ideally, you should find one of your specific make and model of condensor unit to refer to as you complete all of the spring preparation steps.
Also, before you begin prepping your condensor unit for summer, be sure to turn the power off at the unit and flip the power breaker switch that supplies electricity to it. Then, follow these steps:
1. Remove the cage fan (usually on top of the unit) and clean out all leaves and other debris from the inside of the unit. Over fall and winter, a lot of debris fall into the unit through the fan and it is very important to remove them before using your cooling system. You may have to remove some screws to remove the fan.
2. Clean the fins with a garden hose or fin cleaning spray and then straighten any that were bent over the winter. Never use a powerful pressure washer on any part of your AC condensor unit; its powerful spray can bend its delicate parts and even break them.
3. Dust the evaporator coil and spray it with a coil cleaner. You may have to remove screws and panels to access the coil, so refer to your specific unit's manual to find out where the coil is within the unit.
4. Locate the evaporator drain and suck out any clogs in it with a wet/dry vacuum. If the drain is completely clear (unusual after a long winter), then you can skip this step.
5. Change the blower filter. This should be changed every fall and spring. Only use a filter that is built to be used with your specific cooling system.
If you don't have the necessary tools or DIY experience to prep your own AC condensor unit for spring, then it is likely best to have a professional cooling system service HVAC technician do it for you. In addition, these steps will get a unit that is known to be in great condition ready for spring, yet will not address any problems you unit may have that are not easy for the untrained eye to spot. An HVAC technician can find and repair any problems your unit may have while prepping it for spring.
How to Winterize Your AC Condensor Unit Properly
After summer has come and gone and cold temperatures will be arriving soon in the late fall, you will need to winterize your AC condensor unit properly to protect it from the harsh winter elements. However, many homeowners make the well-intentioned mistake of covering their units with special covers made just for them. Surprisingly, most HVAC professionals advise homeowners to leave their units uncovered; not only can moisture accumulate between the inside of the cover and the unit, leading to potential water damage and mildew, but pests also see covered units as great places to use as "winter homes."
Instead, they recommend placing just a large piece of plywood over your unit to keep falling debris out of it. In addition, you will want to have regular maintenance performed on your unit in the fall and change the blower filter.
If you just bought a home with a well-working cooling system that has an outdoor AC condensor unit, then you need to learn how to prep it for the summer and winterize it to protect it all winter long. While you can prep it yourself by following the above steps if you know it is in perfect working order, it is a good idea to have a cooling system repair service inspect it for any unknown damage and prep it for you to make sure you don't run into summer cooling problems when the temperatures are sky-high.
To learn more, contact local cooling system services.