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The Dos and Don'ts of Winter-Time Air Conditioning Maintenance

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What are winter-time air conditioning maintenance services? Whether the weather is still warm enough to sue the AC or it's off for the season, take a look at the dos and don'ts of winter air conditioning maintenance.

Do Call a Professional

Dirt, dust, debris, and damage can all pose problems for your AC system after the prime cooling season ends. After months of use, your air conditioner may have wear and tear or buildup that only a professional can handle. If you don't have contractor-level knowledge or experience working with HVAC systems, you need to call a professional for all your winter air conditioning care needs.

The professional can inspect your system, look for signs of wear or damage, diagnose potential issues, and recommend repairs. They can also clean the system's components and replace air filters.

Don't Touch the Refrigerant

Central AC units use chemical refrigerants to absorb heat and cool the interior space. Over time, and with use, the refrigerant levels can dip. This requires replacement with the correct chemical.

Your AC's refrigerant transforms from a liquid to a gas and back to a liquid again as it moves from the interior unit to the exterior compressor and back inside again. Older air conditioners use HCFC-22 (also known as R-22) as a refrigerant. This ozone-depleting chemical is no longer made in the United States or imported. Newer AC systems use R-410A and other chemicals listed as acceptable with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Even though R-410A and other HCFC-22 alternatives don't damage the Earth's ozone layer in the way R-22 does, these chemicals are not safe for non-professionals to handle. Only a qualified HVAC technician should check your system's refrigerant levels or refill this chemical. Failure to correctly handle AC refrigerant products can pose a serious health and safety hazard.

Do Inspect the Outdoor Area

The HVAC technician can inspect the interior unit and the exterior condenser. But the moving parts and chemical refrigerants aren't the only parts of your air conditioning system. Along with air conditioners, inspect the pad the condenser sits on and the surrounding area.

Your AC system condenser may sit on a concrete pad outside. Ask the contractor to inspect the pad for signs of wear or damage. An uneven pad or serious cracks caused by weathering over the summer and fall months can strain the refrigerant tubes, electrical wires, or entire condenser. These issues require professional repairs before the next air conditioning season starts.