Furnace Fiascos Avoided

How to Winterize Your Air Conditioner and Prepare Your Furnace for Winter Use

As autumn's cooler temperatures arrive, it is time to winterize your air conditioner and get your furnace ready for heating your home. Here are some instructions to winterize an outside AC unit and a window AC unit as well as steps you can take to prepare your furnace for use.

Winterize Your Air Conditioner

If you have a window AC unit, unplug it and remove the filter. Wash the filter with soap and warm water. Allow the filter to air dry before you place it back into the unit so you prevent any mold and mildew growth.

Remove the unit and place it on a flat surface outside. Use your garden hose with a nozzle attachment to spray off the end of the unit that sat outside during the summer to rinse off any dirt and debris that may have accumulated during the summer. Wipe clean and dry the exterior of your air conditioner to remove any residual water from the hose. 

You can store your window AC unit in an outside storage shed, in a garage, or in your basement. It is not necessary, however, to cover your unit with a tarp or similar covering. This can create an environment that can attract pests to take up residence during winter, and this can damage to your unit. Place the unit right-side up in its storage area, not on its side or top. Placing the unit on its side or upside-down can cause the unit's fluids to settle improperly and can cause damage to your unit. If your window AC unit has inadvertently been placed in a non-upright position, make sure you position it upright and let it sit for at least an hour before turning it on for use.

To winterize your outside AC compressor unit, rinse off any debris from the exterior using your garden hose with a sprayer attachment. Then, do not cover it with a winter cover. Just as with a window unit, covering your outside compressor with a cover will give rodents and other pests a sheltered area to make their winter home. The best way to protect your AC unit during winter is to place a piece of plywood over the top of your compressor. Make sure the plywood is at least the same dimension as the top of your compressor. Then, weigh down the plywood with a large rock or brick. The plywood will prevent leaves, dirt, and icicles from falling into the unit during winter.

Ready Your Furnace for Use

Before you turn your furnace on for the winter season, there are some maintenance items you need to see to to make sure your furnace is ready to work its best. One of the easiest tasks you can do is remove your furnace filter to check its condition. If the furnace filter is still dirty from last winter, replace the old filter with a new one. If you have a reusable filter, use a soft brush and warm soapy water to wash and clean the filter, and then allow it to air dry.

Plan to check your furnace filter every month during winter usage and replace it when it is dirty. Your filter is considered dirty if you cannot see light shine through it when you hold it in front of a window. If you have pets in your home or use a allergen-filtering furnace filter with a tighter weave that filters more airborne debris from your home's air, you may need to check your filter more frequently. Leaving a dirty furnace filter in place will cause your blower to work overtime, decreasing your furnace's efficiency and potentially causing your furnace motor to burn out.

Clear any items from around your furnace that have been placed there during the summer. These items can be a potential fire hazard when your furnace is working. Then, check through your home to make sure all the heating vents are open and not blocked by any furniture, boxes, or other items. Use a vacuum attachment hose to clean out all heating vents.

Turn your thermostat on to its heat setting and turn the thermostat up to make sure your furnace turns on and begins to blow warm air. It is best to do this before the outside temperature drops and you therefore need your furnace on a daily basis. Then, if you need to call an HVAC technician to repair your furnace, you have time to make the appointment. It is also a good idea to have your furnace technician give your furnace a tune-up and cleaning.

Use these tips to switch out use of your air conditioner and start using your furnace.