When it gets cold outside, people tend to forget about their air conditioning units. However, it is important that you continue to perform routine maintenance on it year-round if you want it to run at peak efficiency when you need it next summer. It doesn't take much to do the few simple chores, and not doing them can make things much more difficult and could cost you a lot of money in AC repairs and a higher electric bill. Here is what you need to do every couple of weeks, all year long, to keep your air conditioner in good condition.
Always keep the filters clean. If this means you have to replace them, do it. Even in the off-season, dirt and dust will get trapped by the filter. If the filter gets too full, this debris is going to end up inside the unit and could gum up the motor and other parts. Air does still travel through the filters and ducts even when the unit is off. A good, brisk wind will push particles through the filters and into the rest of the system, and even a light breeze can cause dust to move around.
It is also imperative that you keep the area around the unit, whether inside or out, clear of anything that might end up getting into it. This means you need to make sure that any bushes or other vegetation does not grow and block the airflow to the unit. Try to keep at least two feet around the unit free of anything at all.
When the air conditioner is not going to be turned on for more than a day or two, it is a good idea to get a cover for it. This will help keep all debris from getting inside. It will also keep out any rain or snow that could get inside and start causing mold or rust to form and grow.
While you should always have the system serviced in the spring before it gets warm enough to need the air conditioner, you still need to take care of it in the late fall and winter. This will not only save you from paying for the technician to do the simple tasks you should have done, but it will also reduce the likelihood of something breaking and need to be repaired before you can turn it back on. Get in touch with an HVAC contractor who offers AC repairs and maintenance services for more information.