Now is the time to think about cleaning and covering your air conditioners

Last updated on March 10th, 2024 at 03:02 pm

Here around my house, the weather lately has really been cooling off. Which means that fall is on the way. With fall, of course, comes cooler temperatures. And in the interest of saving money and energy, I don’t need to be running my air conditioners – I’d rather just open the windows and let the cooler air keep the temperature inside my house more moderate and comfortable.

Here’s how to prepare when that time comes for your house

Central Air

You can’t remove central air conditioners, but luckily there’s really no need to. The conduits and pipes that lead into your home are already mostly sealed, and the air leakage is minimal per the design of a central air unit. You do need to do some prep work in order to protect the unit, however. First, make sure the thermostat is turned “off” – or at least not on the “cool” setting to make sure the A/C will not turn on.

Next, clean the unit. Remove dirt, debris, twigs, and branches from the central air unit and make sure the hoses appear intact.  Be careful – don’t touch the inside of the unit or unscrew the protective grate. Also, don’t touch high voltage electrical components.

Now is the time to buy or pull out your central ac cover. It should completely cover the outside unit. Some have velcro strips which secure it in place. Or you may use a bungee cord to secure the cover. This will prevent snow and more debris from accumulating in the unit during the next few months.

Window Air Conditioner Units

The recommended practice is to remove the units from the windows when they are no longer needed. Carefully unscrew them from the panes and sill and retract the side panels. Visually inspect the unit to make sure sure it is dry and relatively clean before packing it way. Don’t pack it way if it is wet! You will have a mold problem in the spring!

Give it a cleaning (the outside only) with a soapy water mixture. Again, let it dry. Then pack it away with the insulation intact.

If you can not remove the unit, or the unit will not be removed (say, if it is attached to the building), wrap the unit in an insulating blanket. They sell these at a Home Depot or Lowe’s for a nominal cost. These go on the outside of the unit, and prevent debris and cold air from entering the unit and flowing into your house. Next, try to cover the inside of the unit with a heavy blanket or perhaps another insulating material. This further prevents heat loss during the colder months.

You may want to cover the unit first in a thin layer or plastic to keep it clean, or prevent insulation from entering the unit. This is fine. Just make sure you remove the plastic before you run it. And again, make sure the unit is dry. Don’t cover it when it is already wet. These units are more susceptible to mold and mildew because they are exposed to the elements all the time and when they are covered, they get dark. The insulation will make the temperature more moderate and warmer than the surrounding air. Warmth+darkness+moisture=mold.

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