With temperatures dropping, your air conditioner is likely the last thing on your mind. What many homeowners don’t know is that fall is an ideal time to purchase a new air conditioning system. Below are a few advantages to buying a new air conditioner now instead of waiting until next cooling season, along with tips for protecting your unit at winter approaches.
Avoid installation delays.
The average lifespan for an air conditioning system is approximately 15 years, although it can vary based on usage, maintenance, and environmental factors. If your current air conditioner is nearing or past this mark, you should probably expect to replace your unit in the next few years, if not sooner. Purchasing a new system now instead of waiting will prepare you for next cooling season, and set you up for lower cooling bills.
When you buy an air conditioner in the summer months, you may experience installation delays, leaving you to suffer through the heat longer. Air conditioning installation is in high demand in the summer, and it may be tougher to get a new unit installed right away. If a new air conditioner is in your future, you can avoid delays and minimize your discomfort by purchasing and installing one in the fall instead of waiting until next summer.
Experience more frequent air conditioner repair needs.
If your air conditioner is breaking down on you often, this can be a telling sign that its time may be up soon. If the repair costs for your current system equal 25% or more of the price of a new system, now is the time to upgrade. Buying a new air conditioner now can save you the time and hassle of having to do so quickly and suddenly in the future, when your system gives out for good.
Time to research your options.
When air conditioners break down unexpectedly in the heat of summer, homeowners feel rushed to decide on a unit because they need cooling quick. Save yourself from making a hasty purchase decision by buying an air conditioner before your current one breaks down.
Protecting your Air Conditioner in Cooler Months
Whether purchasing a new HVAC unit in the fall, or maintaining the system you already have in place, one thing is certain – you must prepare for the cooler months ahead. While often overlooked, this preparation begins with winterizing your air conditioning unit. It takes only a little bit of time and could save you hundreds to thousands of dollars down the road.
Here is a simple checklist of things to do in the fall, as the weather begins to cool off:
1. Turn off exterior power to the air conditioning unit
Central air conditioning units generally have exterior circuits that control the power that runs to the unit itself. To turn off power to the unit, open the box that is fastened to the side of the house near the unit and look for a red circuit handle. Next, pull the circuit out, flip it upside down and reinsert it into the slot. Close the lid of the box.
Doing this will prevent damage to the unit or electrocution when working with the unit. It also prevents the unit being accidentally turned on during the winter. If it is turned on, the unit will use water to create the cool air. If this water is exposed to freezing temperatures, it can damage your condensing unit within the A/C unit.
2. Clean the outside of the air conditioner
Leaving anything hanging around your unit could damage it throughout the winter. Trim any plants that are hanging over the unit or growing too close and sweep away any leaves or grass that could blow onto it. Using a hose with high pressure is a good option to clean the fan blades and condensing coils and rid of dirt and bugs.
Clear out all debris that is around the unit as well so that winter winds don’t blow it underneath or into the unit. Freezing temperatures and snow can trap the debris, which could cause damage once summer comes and you start the unit back up.
3. Check the air conditioning unit for cracks or damage
Once you’ve turned the power off and cleaned the unit, it’s a good idea to take a close look at the exterior of the unit and see if there are any cracks or rust. Crevices within the unit should be sealed tight as well. If you find any cracks or broken seals, call Air Dynamics so we can address the issue before the rough winter comes.
4. Cover the air conditioning unit
There is some debate over covering your unit, but it’s best to provide some form of protection to prolong its life and increase resistance against the harsh winter elements. One option is to purchase a cover, which costs anywhere between $15 to $30 depending on the size of your air conditioning unit and where you purchase the cover from.
On the flip side, the concern with using a cover is the possibility of moisture getting trapped underneath it, causing mold to grow. To avoid this, make sure you have at least 12 inches of exposed coil so that air continues to circulate during the winter.
Another cover option is to put a simple piece of plywood on top of your unit. This ensures the unit can breathe and you won’t run the risk of potential mold or corrosion from trapped moisture. The wood also does a good job of protecting it from falling ice and keeping leaves and debris away.
5. Check the air conditioning unit during the winter
This is an ongoing check you can do throughout the winter. As snow and ice continue to build up on your unit, get in the habit of clearing it off. This will help keep unnecessary weight off the top of the unit, avoiding extra strain in the steel which has the potential to cause damage in the future.
While your A/C unit may not have made your initial fall ‘to-do’ list, a little pre-winter preparation can save you time and money when the hot summer months are again upon us.