How to Shut Down an Air Conditioner for the Season

Let’s face it; we are in Southern California where we are still using our air conditioner in November. But we also know that pretty soon, the temperature will cool down significantly and the AC will be put into hibernation for a few chilly months.

Forcing your air conditioner to lie dormant for an entire season requires some thought. Otherwise, you will be disappointed when next summer rolls along and you encounter problems. Instead, your air conditioner should be taken care of the right way at the end of the season.

From last-minute repairs to keeping the area around your air conditioner clean, you can help your AC system stay in good shape as we encounter the cold temperatures to come.


Why Should You Winterize Your Air Conditioner?

Although winter in Southern California is generally short lived, winter conditions can still leave water, ice and debris to collect in and around your unit. If your air conditioner is not protected, it can clog, rust and deteriorate.

Air conditioners are expensive, and you want to make sure that yours lasts as long as possible. By investing your time now, you can prevent any number of minor and major repairs next spring, while prolonging the lifespan of your equipment.

Issues that may include:

  • Rust/corrosion
  • Nesting
  • Damage from falling ice or debris


Keep reading for some of our special AC hibernation tips to follow!


Tip #1: Clean Your Outdoor Unit

Over the course of the year, your unit has probably collected quite a bit of dust and dirt. Therefore, the first thing you should do is clean off all the gunk that has accumulated. Your air conditioner’s outdoor unit is going to go through a lot during the winter. It will likely get pelted with rain, snow, sleet, hail, leaves, pebbles, dirt, dust, critters and practically anything else you can think of that exists outdoors. The least you could do is clean about two feet on either side of the system to allow keep things from becoming problematic down the line. This helps to use an AC cover when your system is not running, or even just a tarp that is tied down.

Use a broom first to brush off leaves, branches, and dirt clumps from the condenser unit. Then take a hose on low pressure and wash down the outside cabinet. Make sure any debris that is too near the unit, such as piles of leaves, mounds of dirt, or branches growing too close, are also removed.


Tip #2: Get Last Minute Repairs

Before taking any further steps, take care of repair needs while they are recent. No matter how close it is to winter weather, AC malfunctions must receive timely fixes. If your air conditioner is short-cycling, running inefficiently, or having trouble keeping you cool, you should schedule repair work before doing anything else.

Even though you might not need these repairs right now, you will when next cooling season rolls around. Spring and summer are busy times for us so repairing the system now is a great proactive step in keeping your system in good condition.


Tip #3: Keep Your Ducts in Good Shape

It is likely if you have got a forced-air heater that your heating system will be using the same ducts that your air conditioner uses. This means that when you are putting away your air conditioner for the year, you cannot just forget about all its components—your heater will be struggling with the same ducts! Get your ducts tested or sealed so that you never have to worry about a struggling heater or air conditioner, no matter the season.


Tip #4: Change the Air Filter

If you have recently scheduled HVAC maintenance, then your air filter was likely changed. However, if not, change your air filter before you turn on your furnace. Clean air filters improve HVAC energy efficiency, which saves money in utility costs. Also, clean air filter allow air to move more freely through your HVAC unit. This means your system does not have to work as hard to heat or cool your home. Since it is recommended to change your air filter every one to three months, the change of seasons is the perfect time to also change your air filter.


Tip #5: Turn the System Off

This might seem obvious but so many homeowners forget this part. Before you do anything else, be sure to turn your air conditioning unit off. You can shut off the power by walking over to the outdoor system and finding the on/off switch. Typically, the switch is located under a metal or plastic lid. Flip the switch to the off position.

Although it may be tempting, do not use the thermostat to turn off your AC unit. If you fail to turn your air conditioner off completely this year, you could encounter problems. Occasionally, an especially warm day in December or January triggers your thermostat to turn your AC on. This could be devastating for your air conditioner since it could be covered in snow or ice that gives it trouble as it tries to cool you down.

Tip #6 Cover the Unit

Before you wrap your air conditioner for the winter, you need to make sure that it is dry. Once you confirm that it is, place a waterproof cover over the condenser unit to protect its interior from water, snow, and any objects blown by winds. You can purchase a specially designed cover for this job from home supply stores. You will need to ensure that the cover is secured so that it can withstand strong winds. It’s recommended that you use bungee cords or vinyl rope for fastening the cover, but if you prefer, you can also secure the cover with a piece of plywood and a brick.


Give Us a Call

Even after you have winterized your system, you still need to check on your unit throughout the winter. Try to inspect your air conditioner every couple of weeks – and any time you experience bad weather.

Each time you check on it, you should brush off any snow, ice or water that may have collected on top of the cover. Also, be sure to remove any debris and keep all animals away from the area.

If you find that your cover has moved at all, make sure to adjust it appropriately so that it continues to protect your air conditioner.

If your system needs repair or inspection, call Aire-Tech on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.