Picture it…you’re with the kids baking buttery holiday cookies while the smell of gingerbread and pine needles fills in the air. You get together with family and some friends to enjoy your favorite holiday movie and have a few laughs. As you go to grab a glass of water, you notice the water pressure is off. And the water coming out of the pipes doesn’t look so good. As soon as you check your unit, you see the problem. Frozen water is coming right out of your now busted pipes. It’s a nightmare situation, but it happens every year because we get into a routine and ignore preventable issues.
Winter is the time many start to pull back from warm-weather habits. Knitted sweaters go back into regular use, hot peppermint mochas are the new go-to morning drink, and the heater kicks in. No one is taking the chance of ice-cold toes after getting out of a steamy shower. Naturally, when the heater turns on, we shut our AC units off. However, it’s still important to take care of your AC even if it’s not in use. Try these tips to protect your AC unit, and you’ll be ready when the frost disappears.
7 Ways To Protect Your AC Unit During The Colder Months
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to take preventive measures for your AC unit. Try these tricks instead.
1. Plywood & Pipe Insulation Protects Against The Elements
Plywood is a simple tool you can use to ensure your AC unit stays protected. Buy or cut a piece of plywood the size of the top of your exterior AC system. Then weigh the plywood down on top of the AC unit with bricks to keep it in place. One of the best things about this hack is that it’s affordable and requires little to no installation and maintenance. Additionally, use pipe covers to keep them protected from freezing conditions. Even one hard freeze could cause exposed pipes to burst.
2. Consider Hail Guards To Add Value
Hail guards look intense, but that’s because they are made to be extremely durable. It’s like a metal cage that protects your AC unit from hefty debris and extreme weather. In fact, State Farm covered home and auto claims worth $3.1 billion in 2020 due to hail damage. Furthermore, your insurance may not cover you completely if you need to repair a damaged AC unit due to hail or other weather conditions. A guard rail looks better than other covers, mitigates future surprise costs, and is affordable and easy to install.
3. Use A Weather-Proof Cover
If hail guards or plywood isn’t the look you’re going for, try using a traditional fabric cover. An ideal cover should blend in with its surroundings, so stick to natural colors like black, gray, and beige. More importantly, it should be waterproof, thick, and have the right mechanisms to remain in place (such as straps, zippers, ties, or knotted ropes).
5. Use Breathable Material Only
While we’re on the subject of fabric coverings, it’s severely important to never use plastic to cover your HVAC unit. Plastic is not only a hazard to the environment, but it’s also bad for your unit! You may notice the following issues if you don’t heed our warning:
- Collected moisture in and around your unit
- Mold growth
- Increase of rusted components due to trapped moisture
Avoid plastic covers and look for commercial-grade vinyl or high-quality polyester instead. Look at it this way. The average cost of a new AC unit installation in the U.S. is $5,634. This means it’s better to spring for more costly, breathable, and durable fabric than take the risk.
4. Clear Winter Buildup & Avoid Frozen Parts
It’s not exactly “fun” work, but it’s essential to get outside and clear up around your unit when you can. Grab a heavy-duty trash bag and pick up leaves, sticks, and other debris around your unit. If you’ve decided to leave your unit uncovered, remove any moisture or icicles you see surrounding the unit.
6. Turn Your Unit Off & Prevent Water Accumulation
You might think you’d be doing yourself a favor by running the AC a little even when it’s cold outside. However, doing so can cause an increase in condensation, causing the AC unit to take on more moisture than it can handle. Your AC unit could draw in the moisture from the cold rain or snow outside if it kicks on to a cool setting. Once it freezes, you run into potentially destroying your entire unit. And it’s not enough to just turn it off. You should find the circuit breaker that controls the unit and turn that off completely to avoid any mistakes. Just remember to turn the breaker back on when you’re ready to use AC again.
7. Greenery Is More Than Just Decoration
Shrubs and shorter bushes may seem like a landscaping luxury. However, you may have noticed that many apartment complexes, businesses, and other buildings design their facilities with landscaping in mind. This is because planting sturdy shrubs and bushes can actually protect your AC unit from a few elements such as wild animals, debris, and harsh weather. Plants like holly, hydrangea, juniper, and even a selection of rose bushes look gorgeous, are sturdy, and serve a purpose.
Don’t Leave Your AC Unit Entirely Left Out In The Cold & Hire The HVAC Pros
If you’re behind on your routine winter HVAC check, it’s not too late. When spring rolls back around, you don’t want to be out hundreds of dollars making preventable repairs. Because while winter comes with some beautiful scenery and lasting memories, it can also cause costly damage to neglected AC units and other parts of your home.