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Once fall arrives and you no longer need air conditioning, it’s time to get your home’s HVAC system ready for winter weather. In addition to scheduling a professional heating equipment tune up, it’s vital to protect your costly outdoor HVAC unit. Taking the following steps can help ensure this critical cooling component is in good working order when you need it again next spring:

Cut the Power

Accidentally switching the thermostat setting from heating to cooling during the winter can cause serious damage to your A/C compressor. Shutting off the power to the outdoor HVAC unit is the best way to prevent this possibility. If the unit has a dedicated breaker in your main electrical panel, flip it. Then, hit the “off” switch in the shutoff box located outdoors near the HVAC unit.

Change the System Air Filter

Running the heating system with a clean filter not only keeps it operating properly, it helps maximize warm air output from the registers and boosts energy efficiency. Changing out the filter while you’re getting the HVAC unit ready for winter is an easy way to remember this simple but essential chore.

Tidy Up Around the Condenser

Trim any vegetation growing within a 2-foot radius of the outdoor HVAC unit, and clear away built-up debris such as fallen leaves, grass clippings, tree branches or dryer lint. By tidying up the area, you’ll discourage nesting pests that can chew the wiring or insulation.

Clean off the Coil

Use a gentle spray of the garden hose to get rid of any accumulated dead bugs, bird droppings and dust on the condenser coil. Be sure to let the HVAC unit dry thoroughly beforehand if you plan to install a cover.

Keep the Unit Looking Good

To keep the HVAC unit from rusting prematurely, don’t wrap it in a plastic tarp that traps moisture and promotes condensation. Instead, invest in a custom, ventilated cover or simply apply a light coat of car wax to the metal. To safeguard against falling ice, place a square of thick plywood on top of the unit and weigh it down with a couple of rocks or bricks.

For more tips about getting your HVAC unit prepared for winter or to schedule expert service, contact the Springdale area comfort pros at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal.

Our goal is to help Northwest Arkansas residents learn more about HVAC-related home comfort and energy issues.