In many areas of the country, temperatures are starting to plummet, and the first snowfall of the year could arrive at any time. Is your HVAC system ready for the colder, snowy days? Here are four things you should do -- or have done -- before the snowflakes start tumbling down.
Clear Leaves Out of the AC Unit
Autumn probably brought lots of tumbling leaves to your property. Chance are, some of them ended up in your AC unit. If you leave them there, they may attract squirrels or other pests who are looking for a place to spend the winter away from the snow. So, take the cover off of your AC unit, and scoop those leaves out. If there's small leaf debris that you cannot remove by hand, use an air compressor to gently blow it out of the air conditioner.
Cover Your AC Unit
AC units are made to withstand the elements, and if yours ends up being exposed to snow, it won't suffer very serious damage. However, if you do cover your AC unit, you can minimize wear and tear somewhat. This is only true if you have an actual AC cover. A plastic tarp won't breath well enough and may actually accelerate corrosion by trapping moisture against the metal. If you do not have an actual AC cover, purchase one from your HVAC contractor, and apply it once your AC unit is free from leaves and is dry to the touch.
Check Vent Covers
Check the covers on any vents associated with your heating and cooling system. Pests like mice and birds like to build nests inside these vents because they are warm spaces, and the first snowfall may prompt them to look for such hiding places. If your vents are missing covers, you can buy a basic mesh screen to put over them at the local hardware store. For a more attractive solution, ask your HVAC contractor about PVC vent caps that are made specifically for your vent tubes.
Stock Up On Filters
If you do not already have a few spare air filters on hand, run to the hardware store and purchase a few. This way, you will have them on hand to change the filter monthly, as is recommended. This is especially important once it gets truly snowy and cold since your furnace will have to work extra hard to keep your home warm -- and the burden of a clogged furnace may cause it strain that leads to the need for repairs.