The winter months bring snow, ice, and frigid temperatures for much of the western world; even those areas which are chilly year-round get measurably worse. For many people, particularly those who are old enough to drive, this isn’t quite the occasion for celebration that it was when they were children. Even areas that don’t get a lot of cold weather, including the greater Port St. Lucie area and other parts of Florida, still see a marked decrease in AC use during the winter, which can lead to many of the same issues of neglect and disregard for AC systems.
Nobody is thinking about cooling and air conditioning systems during the winter months—except for the professionals who maintain them: they’re the ones who are going to be fixing the damage caused by months’ worth of annual neglect, come mid- to late spring, when both residential and commercial customers are eager to have their air conditioning turned back on. People are often in a rush to restore AC once the hottest months of the year set in, and this can lead to additional difficulties in warmer climates like Florida’s—including a wide range of preventable issues
Here are a few steps you can take to help prepare your home and commercial HVAC systems for the winter months, and to preserve them once the cold has set in. Following these simple steps will substantially reduce the likelihood of there being any problems with your AC when the warmer months return.
Before Winter Arrives
There are a few preparatory steps to take with your air conditioning unit before the winter weather is upon you. These concern your system’s filters, coils, overall cleanliness, and the units themselves. Some of the following points are particular to commercial and industrial-scale HVAC systems, but most will apply to homeowners as well.
Change HVAC Filters
Before late fall or winter is upon you, change your HVAC filters. Air conditioning filters should be changed, on average, every 2-3 months. Homeowners should change their air filters every 4-6 months. It is important to maintain this standard through the months in which you aren’t using your AC. Dirty filters trap dust, dirt, debris, and pollen, and the dirtier they are, the more quickly they accumulate more. Normal air currents moving through the system can spread these contaminants throughout a home or other building.
Check your Coils
Inevitably, no matter how clean you keep your filters, your AC unit will attract dirt over time. For industrial units, make sure you keep the coils and coil fins clean during the winter months. Otherwise, you’ll have a big problem with accumulated dirt and other detritus come spring. Coils should be cleaned thoroughly at least once per year; for optimum performance, however, it is recommended that they be checked twice. Examine them before winter sets in, and then again before the AC is turned back on.
Protect Portable Units and Immobile Outdoor Components
Once you’re not longer using a portable AC unit, including most residential units, it should be removed and stored somewhere safe and away from the elements. Keep your unit in a cool and dry place, so it won’t accumulate dirt or debris in the same way that an exposed unit would—and change your filters then, so you don’t have to remember to do so once you find yourself in need of its services once again. For outdoor units, such as a home central air unit, keep the surroundings clean. You can cover the unit, or you can invest the additional time and energy into keeping it clean; the latter does have its advantages, such as discouraging rodent infestation
During the Winter Months
During the coldest months of the year, you’ll want to maintain your air conditioning system in as convenient a manner as possible, while still ensuring that it’s ready for the following summer. By following the preparatory steps outlined above, you will ensure an easier time of doing so. The items on the list below make a good, general outline—tweaked to accommodate what applies to your situation—for managing over the course of the cooler months.
During the Winter, Check Your Filters Regularly
Check your filters regularly, at least every 2-3 months. If you changed them before winter set in, as outlined above, you may not need to change them again until the system is in regular use. At the same time, you should still make certain through regular inspection. The widespread activation of AC with a buildup of debris trapped during the months of winter and early spring is one of the major contributing factors behind a less-publicized wave of respiratory illness, one which hits across America during the late spring and early summer months. Port St. Lucie has an annual issue with pollen and allergy-related conditions which spikes at this time; dirty AC filters are a contributing factor.
Keep Your Condenser Clean
Whether you live in a part of the country where falling autumn leaves are an issue or not, the later months of the year are one of the worst for air conditioning units with outdoor components. This is almost entirely due to neglect; that which is out of sight is out of mind, particularly when it isn’t being used. Once the hot weather returns, however, you’ll want your AC unit’s heat absorption to be on point, and it won’t be working at optimum efficiency if it’s dirty. Make sure your condenser is kept clean! Attending to this routinely will make the job much easier overall.
More About HVAC Maintenance, Year-Round
Collins Electric and Air offers electrical and HVAC services to Port St. Lucie, Florida and the surrounding area. Services are available year-round to accommodate the installation, repair, and maintenance needs of commercial and residential customers. Like and Follow Collins Electric and Air on social media, and be kept up to date with useful tips and tricks to help ensure that your system runs at its most efficient. If you need maintenance, give Collins a call today, at 772-370-6095. Or, get in touch online
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