Most people who have a central air conditioner do not realize that they need to take care of the condenser unit outside. If you live in colder climates in the winter, then you need to do more than just the standard maintenance to prevent air conditioning repairs the following summer. Here are three things you can do by yourself to prevent future repairs and winterize your air conditioner.
Remove Leaves and Pebbles
If you have any deciduous (leafy) trees near your outdoor condenser, they probably will fall and collect in the top of your unit and around the base as well. Birds and animals sometimes drop pebbles into the top fan grate. With both pebbles and leaves, you need to remove as much of them as you can by hand. Then you can use a yard vacuum to suck up the rest of the leaves and pebbles that are trapped in the grate and stuck just below the opened slats in the grate. This prevents any potential fires from dried leaves when you turn your unit on next year, and prevents the fan blades from jamming up because pebbles are stuck and in the way.
Insulate Electrical Cables Against the Freezing Cold
The electrical cables that extend from the outside unit into your home and into the electrical box are already wrapped with electrical plastic, but it does not fully protect them against chewing animals and ice. Buy some hollowed-out styrofoam pipes and wrap the cables with the styrofoam. You can do this by cutting a slit down one side of each hollow styrofoam tube and then pushing the cables into the tubes through the slit. Secure it with electrical tape or duct tape. This will keep rodents from chewing on the cables for nesting material and keep ice from collecting on the cables during the winter, both of which are potentially quite dangerous.
Cover the Entire Outdoor Unit After You Have Cleared out Leaves and Pebbles
If your air conditioner came with a seasonal cover, put it over the outdoor unit in mid-fall after you have cleared leaves and pebbles out of the condenser's fan and grates. If you do not have a cover, you can either buy one from your HVAC contractor or fashion one from several plastic garbage bags wrapped around the unit and held in place with duct tape. The plastic garbage bags are usually waterproof, which will keep snow and ice out of your unit and prevent rusting of the internal components. (Additionally, the plastic bags are cheap, replaceable and disposable.)
For more information, talk to an air conditioner repair company.