Fall AC Maintenance
It’s getting cooler outside. The high today in Philly isn’t even 80 degrees. Just a week or two ago we couldn’t go a day without seeing 90. In another few weeks, we’ll be struggling to see the 70s and we’ll be turning to warmer clothes for the start of fall. As with all things, that means now is about the best time to prepare for winter with some pre-emptive maintenance and cleaning.
We’re Going to Maintain Something… We Won’t Be Using?
It’s always best to work on things when you don’t need them and better still to work on them just a little ahead of time. The weather outside is nice and pleasant right now. You can walk outside in a T-shirt and not feel like your arms are going to freeze off. It’s a good time to do any outdoor work before mother nature gives you a nice, awful cold for your troubles.
In the case of your air conditioner, there’s a fair bit you can do to get ready ahead of the season. You can clean the area around your condenser, your HVAC contractor can clean out the drainage connections for the drip pan, you can order a protective cover to keep your condenser free of debris throughout the winter, and you can do one last inspection for any worn parts.
There is some logic to all of this. Debris is going to trap water from rain and snow, which will ultimately damage the condenser when it freezes or cause rust and corrosion in the meantime. The drainage system, from the drip pan to any plumbing that collects it, can become dirty over time. It’s an unpleasant experience to be doing this on a cold, fall day. It’s perhaps worse to need your AC next spring and find it creating a flood because it’s dirty. You should just take care of this while it’s at it’s most pleasant. It’s also about time to find a cover your your air conditioner if you don’t already have one. With UPS Ground shipping, it’s affordable and you’ll have it for later, when you shutdown the condenser in a few weeks, rather than paying more at a big-box retailer. Lastly, while you’re doing the fall cleaning and looking around, your HVAC specialist can see if anything is on the verge of failure. If there’s a grinding sound coming from a fan motor or the belts are starting to fray, you’ve now got six to seven months to tuck away a few pennies to get it fixed later, rather than being blindsided come Spring when something big grinds to a halt on the hottest day of the year.
This is all minor stuff, but it can save you time, headaches, and money to be ahead of the curve. The biggest thing for these systems is to keep them in good shape and keep them clean. Later in the fall you’ll probably have to sweep away a few leaves, but at least you won’t have to take the condenser apart to get at them if you clean it now and have your cover handy for September or October.
Remarkably, yes. When it comes to shutting down an air conditioner, you really can’t replace anything before Spring. If you change out the belts, they’ll just have one more winter’s wear on them. It might not even be a good time to change the air filters. If they’re reasonably clean, there’s not much point to swamping them out for another few weeks of use, just to sit idle and get gross from the lack of airflow all winter. If you really mess with anything big, it won’t do all too much good right now. Air conditioners are pretty low-maintenance machines. The best you can do is keep them clean and be ready to pack it up to keep it clean all winter long.