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HVAC systems are designed to be durable and last for years. But even sturdy systems can sustain damage from winter weather, which is why it’s important to take measures to protect your HVAC system. It hasn’t snowed much in Westchester County this year, but it’s bound to come soon. All the more reason why it’s a good time to go over some of the preparations and maintenance strategies you can perform. 

The free flow of air is vital for all HVAC systems to function correctly. A unit that’s covered in snow or encrusted in ice is in danger of having operational issues when you need it most.

Take a look at some suggestions for keeping your HVAC running smoothly, especially when the cold and snow make it a necessity.


how to protect hvac in winter


Don’t Cover Your Outdoor Unit

There are several reasons not to put a cover on your condenser unit outside, especially not a full-length cover. First of all we should mention that the units are designed and built to be outside. So whether it’s cold weather, wet weather, or salty air, these units are pretty durable.

Covering them can cause issues like pest infestations, mold, mildew, or rust. Any of those can cause damage to your system. Rodents love chewing through mechanical wires. Moisture loves to build up in dark places without good airflow, causing mildew or gross mold. You’ll avoid these issues by keeping your unit cover-free and following the suggestions laid out below.

Don’t Let Snow or Ice Build Up On Your Outdoor Unit

The best way to protect your HVAC from damage resulting from snow and ice build-up is to maintain a clear space along the perimeter of your unit.  We recommend clearing a space that is at least 18 inches all around the unit. Furthermore, keep the top and sides of the unit uncovered. When you remove the ice from your unit, try not to use sharp objects so you don’t damage the coils and fins.

Make Sure the Exhaust isn’t Blocked

Lots of snow can obstruct the exhaust of your furnace and prevent the unit from operating. Another consequence of a blocked exhaust is that carbon monoxide could begin seeping into your home. That could cause major health problems for you and your loved ones. Although most furnace systems come equipped with safety measures in case the exhaust is blocked, it is preferable to be as safe as possible.


best way to protect you outdoor AC unit


Remove Snow from Your Heat Pump Condenser

When you shovel snow or ice around your heat pump condenser, be careful not to touch the heat pump condenser with the shovel. Condensers are equipped with delicate fins.  Some are shielded with a metal grid. These fins need to remain clear of debris, snow, and ice and undamaged in order to work properly. The fins are how the condenser transfers heat. So treat this piece of equipment with care.

Necessary Furnace Maintenance

As you clear snow and ice from your heat pump condenser, pay special attention to your furnace air intake pipes or vents. If your vent is covered in snow, you are preventing your furnace from the air it requires for combustion. A blocked outdoor intake and exhaust pipe could cause your furnace to repetitively try to start up, but because it doesn’t turn on, nothing happens.  You can remedy this quickly and easily by clearing the snow from the intake and exhaust pipe. Also, turn the furnace off, and wait a minute and then turn it back on. The unit will then reset.

You can find the intake or exhaust pipe and vent by going to the furnace and looking for a black or white pipe – not the metal heating ducts – going from the furnace to an outside wall. Afterward, go outside to the area where they are exiting the house. For a majority of houses, they will stick out a few inches from the basement wall. The pipes may extend along the side of the house and have a curve near the end. Then, clear the snow from the area after you locate the vent.

Remember to change the furnace filter frequently, and it should be more often for the winter season when the furnace is continually operating. Neglecting your furnace filter can mean your HVAC system works harder, resulting in higher energy costs.

In general, make sure you keep the area around your HVAC unit clear year-round so it can breathe and function properly.

Remember, your trusted HVAC company like Thermodynamix can handle all your maintenance needs expertly and safely. 

Learn about our Maintenance Plans! 

(914) 909-4108



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