How Snow and Ice Can Affect Your Air Conditioner

While snow might be a welcome sight at the end of the year around the holidays, by the time February, March, and April move in, snow is the last thing on our minds. We’re ready for spring. The last thing we want is another blizzard.

But that’s when the most snow blankets the Front Range. And when you measure the snow by feet instead of inches, and the ice builds up on everything that stands still, that’s when problems start to arise.

While you might shovel the driveway and the sidewalks, and even take a glance or two at your outside spigots, you might not think about checking your air conditioner. But you should.How Snow and Ice Can Affect Your Air Conditioner

Winter weather can be tough on air conditioners in several ways. Snow can build up and cover the equipment for days. Ice can form on the components, and if it doesn’t thaw for days, it can wreak havoc on the materials.

The condenser unit is especially vulnerable. The air conditioner is built with its most vulnerable parts impacted by outside weather conditions. It’s built with a series of slotted fins that allow air to flow inside. Peek inside and you can see the fan in the middle.

When ice builds up on the fins, it can expand and push the fins in all directions. That means when your system starts up again, air won’t flow inside in the manner it should. The longer that happens, the greater chance your system won’t operate effectively. You’ll start hearing noises and noticing comfort changes inside your home.

When you’re checking on your air conditioner after ice and snow storms, don’t just look around the unit itself. Look up too. Icicles forming along your roof line can also cause damage when they fall. Splinters of ice can break off and fly in through the fins, bending them or impacting the fragile fan inside.

When several feet of snow accumulates around the unit, it melts, freezes, again and again, impacting the equipment in different ways. It can allow water and ice to puddle in the unit. It can also allow rust and corrosion to settle in. That’s why spring maintenance is so important, before you need your air conditioner for the very first time.

Other things you can do include:

  • Creating a wind barrier around your equipment
  • Keep your gutters clean and prevent ice buildup
  • Shovel snow away from your AC unit
  • Cover your air conditioner in the off season

Have other questions about your air conditioner?

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