We all know that a lot of devices will start to develop problems if they haven’t been used in a while – from a vehicle to a lawnmower sitting in a garage. But what about an AC? Does anything bad happen if your air conditioner isn’t used for three to four months or longer?
Though there are preventative measures and maintenance checks you may want to undergo before turning on your air conditioner, the answer is mostly good news. If you have a well-installed air conditioning unit that’s had regular maintenance, your system should operate smoothly throughout the summer months.
Most Air Conditioners Are Fine if They’re Not Used for 3-4 Months
In general, today’s durable air conditioners were built to last. Many are meant to run every day for months at a time and are expected to last for decades.
As long as your air conditioner is in good working condition overall and gets the maintenance it needs, it’s unlikely to suffer problems if it’s been turned off for a few months.
In fact, because almost no one needs AC year-round, this downtime is expected for typical air conditioner operation. Even in hotter states like Nevada and Arizona, there are three months where AC isn’t required, and many regions have a much longer winter.
However, there are still things you should know if you’re about to turn your AC off for the season or if you’re about to start it up for the first time in three to four months.
What Precautions Should I Take Before Running My AC After It Sits Unused?
One of the only problems that affects your unused AC is a buildup of dust in your system or an accumulation of debris outside.
If you’re ready to turn on your air conditioner after it’s been unused for a few months, here are steps to take first:
- Walk outside and check out your compressor unit (the big outside unit): Are weeds growing on or into it? Is there debris buildup around it? Or anything else that could be blocking it, like squirrel or bird’s nests? Remove the debris before proceeding. Avoid opening your unit. If you need the internal components checked, you should consider calling a professional air conditioning technician.
- Are you keeping up on maintenance?Air conditioners should be maintained by a professional at least once a year, twice a year in extreme environments like Nevada or Arizona. If you didn’t have maintenance done last season, have it done before you start it up. Sign up for an air conditioning maintenance plan with Ambient Edge.
- Run your AC in fan mode:Before turning it to cool, switch your thermostat to fan mode and let it blow for at least 10 minutes. This will help ensure you’ve cleaned dust and debris out of the system before you turn it on “cool.” Dust buildup can make it difficult for your AC to circulate air.
- Clean or replace your filters: If you have an indoor unit, clean and dry, or replace, your air filters. Letting your filters get dirty can cause problems with your AC, and your fan or compressor could fail prematurely.
- Look for refrigerant leaks: Refrigerant leaks can severely impact the performance of your AC. They can happen in a few different places, including the compressor and evaporator coils. They can progressively get worse and should be repaired as soon as you can.
How Do I Prepare My Air Conditioner for the Off-Season?
Performing a few basic tasks at the end of the season can help ensure your HVAC system is ready to go when you need it again in three to four months.
If you’re about to turn off your air conditioner for the season, consider taking a weekend day to perform the following steps:
- Switch off your AC: Locate the AC power switch, which may be mounted near the condensing unit. Lift the protective safety cover and flip the switch from “on” to “off,” then close the cover. Turning off your air conditioner’s power source safeguards yourself from injury as you prepare your unit for winter. You also prevent the AC from unintentionally turning on during unusually warm weather.
- Clear out the system: Turn on your AC fan and let it run by itself for up to an hour. This helps clear out the system.
- Perform maintenance checks: This is also an excellent time to catch up on AC maintenance. Walk around your air conditioner’s exterior and note casing issues like rust, leakage, cracks, or other problems. Look for loose, cracked, or deteriorated seals. If you see any issues that warrant further attention, contact our HVAC experts.
- Clean your AC unit: During the summer, your AC is exposed to dead insects, bird droppings, dust, and debris. On a windless day, use a hose to rinse off the grime from the unit’s exterior and allow it to dry completely.
- Protect your air conditioner from the elements: Use a cover to protect your condenser unit from the elements. Most home improvement stores sell waterproof AC covers. Secure it from the wind with bungee cords but leave it loose enough to avoid moisture buildup. You can also use a sheet of plywood. Cut it with a 12-inch overhang on all sides and lay a heavy stone or brick on top to prevent it from moving.
Under normal circumstances, this is all you need to do, and your AC can sit for three or four months, unused. But this may not be true if it needs repair.
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If My AC Had Problems Before I Turned It Off, Will It Be Worse After 3-4 Months?
Unfortunately, air conditioner performance doesn’t improve after sitting unused.
In addition to poor service procedures and faulty installation, inadequate maintenance is a common problem with AC units, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. As a result, if you had a significant air conditioning issue before shutting it down, it may have gotten worse. For example:
- If there was a leak before, the unit’s refrigerant might have gone from low to empty after three months
- Performance issues related to uncleaned coils or corroded wire terminals will get worse with time
- If your AC turns on but struggles to perform for any reason (it blows warm air, turns off too often, etc.), it could be a sensor issue or a duct leak. Those problems are likely to be more severe now
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, your best bet is to get proper AC servicing in the off-season before you turn it back on in the spring.
You don’t want to experience a sudden AC failure, which is inconvenient and may cost more than the initial fix.
Let Ambient Edge Fix Your Air Conditioner Before You Need It
Ambient Edge offers comprehensive AC maintenance and repair. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we show up when we say we will, and we give flat-rate estimates for every job. So, let us help you get your AC in tip-top shape for the upcoming season.
Plus, every job is backed with our 100% guarantee. Call us or fill out our contact form and an AC pro will get back with as soon as possible to book an appointment or answer your questions.