If you have a central air conditioning system, then you probably are not too concerned about maintaining your air conditioner as the temperatures start to drop. However, a little bit of maintenance at the beginning of winter can greatly help to reduce repair costs that are sure to pop up as the warm weather hits in the summer. If you want your AC system to remain in great shape through the snow and ice, then keep reading.
Cover the Top of the System
Many people decide to completely cover their outdoor air conditioner condenser units to protect them from the snow. However, most covers are made from nonbreathable materials like polyester or vinyl. When these types of covers are placed over the air conditioner, moisture can build underneath the cover. This can cause mold to form on the condenser coils, fan, and the refrigerant lines.
While mold is unlikely to make it into the home and cause health issues, the mold can cause the condenser to break down. If the mold congests the coils, then air cannot move across the refrigerant lines and the internal motor. Overheating of the unit can occur. Even if the unit does not overheat, then the heat exchange process will be interrupted to the point that the condenser must work much harder. This will elevate your electric bill.
The best way to keep mold from forming in the condenser is to make sure that air can continue to flow through and around the unit. This means that you should not cover the air conditioner. However, the fan of the unit will sit on top of the condenser, and this fan is surrounded by grates that will allow snow, leaves, and other debris to fall into the unit. You should prevent this by placing a piece of plywood over the top of the unit. Choose a pressure treated variety to keep rot at bay and use a circular saw to cut the wood to size. Afterwards, secure the wood over the AC unit with the help of two ratchet straps or bungee cords.
Check the piece of wood throughout the winter and remove snow as it piles on top. One cubic foot of snow can weigh up to about 20 pounds. This means that three feet of snow on a four foot condenser top could weigh up to 240 pounds. While this type of weight is not likely to collapse the AC unit, it may place enough pressure and stress on the aluminum casing to cause a bend or a dent.
Your outdoor air conditioning condenser will be attached to the indoor part of the system through a small refrigerant line. This allows the refrigerant to flow freely so that heat exchange and fluid compression can occur. This refrigerant line is normally wrapped in either a foam or rubber insulation material to help ensure the efficiency of the AC unit. Without the insulation, the coolant line would be exposed to warm air during the summer and this can reduce the air conditioner's ability to cool the home. Unfortunately, if the insulation contains any holes or openings, then water can seep underneath the insulation and freeze. This can place pressure on the copper pipe and may cause a leak or crack.
You can prevent issues with coolant lines by making sure to replace insulation before the winter weather sets in. Foam insulation is the easiest to install, so consider using this for the coolant line. Use a razor-blade to cut away old insulation and use a pair of scissors to cut the insulation to the correct length. Place the insulation over the pipe and remove the backing covering the sticky adhesive along the insulation slit. Press the slit together. Consider wrapping the ends of the insulation in electrical tape so that water cannot seep underneath the foam close to the condenser or your home.
For more information, contact companies like Christian Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.