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Summer and the heat it brings is over and snowfall is imminent.  Your home's furnace may already be running regularly, with the air conditioner ready for a winter of hibernation, however, you should not completely forget about your air conditioner until next year.  Maintaining it in the winter is important to preserve its longevity and reliability during the hot summer months.  Failure to do so could lead to nesting of animals, or rust or corrosion of vital components.

Before turning the A/C unit off for the winter, stand near it and listen to the compressor while it's running to ensure there are no unusual noises, such as buzzing or grinding, which may be a sign of vital repairs to make over the winter.

If everything is in working order, turn off the breaker for the A/C unit.  This is usually located in a weatherproof box near the air conditioner on the outside of the house.  Turning it off prevents the risk of electrocution when performing other maintenance tasks, and also prevents the unit from turning on during an unseasonably warm day during the winter, at which point water could enter the condensing unit and then freeze.

Check that there are no cracks or rust in the unit's casing, and that all seals are tight.  Add insulation on any exposed pipes and wiring to keep the wires and fluid within the pipes from freezing which, in turn, keeps the pipes from cracking.  Adding a cover on top of the unit when it will not be functioning for several months will keep further moisture and debris from unnecessarily entering.

 Ensuring your air conditioner is winterized will give you the confidence to know that it will turn on again when summer returns in a few months!

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Keith Langlois

RHI | NHI

Registered Home Inspector
National Home Inspector
Licensed Electrician