There’s a Right Way to Shut Down Your AC to Prepare for Fall

It’s an annual ritual: Shutting down the AC for the winter. It’s been a long hot summer, but cool days and chillier nights mean it’s now time to put the central air conditioner to sleep for the season. However, shutting down the AC means more than simply switching the thermostat from “Cool” to “Off.” Here are some tips to properly prepare your air conditioner for the idle months ahead.

Resolve pending issues.

If any mechanical or performance problems occurred over the summer, schedule professional HVAC service to diagnose them and make any necessary repairs before shutting down the AC.

Turn off power to the outdoor unit.

The shut-off switch for the outdoor AC condenser unit is typically located inside a hinged box mounted on the wall of the house, immediately adjacent to the unit. Turn the switch to the “off” position.

Clean the outdoor unit.

Clear away leaves, twigs, and other obstructions from the fan grille on top of the unit. Remove any debris stuck in vent slats on the sides. Cut back encroaching vegetation to create 2 feet of clear space on all sides of the unit.

Cover the outdoor unit.

Commercially available AC covers sized for your specific air-conditioner model are a good idea for protection from winter weather. A cover also keeps out small animals, such as squirrels looking for a winter home.

Inspect the condensate drip pan.

Located beneath the indoor air handler, the drip pan catches condensation produced by the AC evaporator coil and diverts it down a drain line. Use a flashlight to make sure the pan is empty and not retaining water that will feed algae and mold growth over the winter. If you see standing water in the pan after shutting down the AC, contact your HVAC contractor.

Replace the system air filter.

Start the heating season with a fresh, clean filter and change it at least every other month all winter.

For professional service or just helpful advice about shutting down your AC this fall, contact Paitson Bros., your all-season source for HVAC sales and service since 1922.

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