Air conditioners are becoming increasingly popular here in the UK. While we remain a nation of radiators, the many benefits that these heating and cooling units offer have caused many households and commercial properties to make the investment. As we move into Winter, it’s easy to disregard air conditioners as defunct – after all, why would we need to cool a room when it’s frosty, rainy or foggy outside. But with modern technology helping us to get the most out of these climate control units at all times, it pays to understand how best to use your air conditioner during winter. And, we cover just that in this blog today.

Should You Use Your Air Conditioner in Winter?

As we mentioned above, many people believe that air conditioners become surplus during winter. Modern technology has meant that these climate control units don’t just keep a room cool, but they can also work to regulate the temperature too. During colder months, it reverses its working function and instead, circulates warm air around a space. If you have a ductless heating system with zone control, you can easily isolate individual rooms and use your system to create different temperatures in different spaces. They also feature heat pumps that recycle warm air with auxiliary heating modes that maintain warmth during the coldest months.

Preparing Your Outdoor Air Conditioner for Winter

If you have had an external air conditioning unit fitted on your property and are expecting adverse weather conditions, a proper maintenance programme ensures you reduce the risk of complications during winter. These machines can be significant investments, for both residential and commercial clients. Therefore, it pays to prepare your unit for extreme weather conditions to guarantee it will work properly when summer does come.

To maintain/prepare your AC unit for winter:

  • Switch Off the Power – This reduces the risk of execution as you work on each individual component and carry out your inspections.
  • Clean Away External Debris – The best way to prepare your AC unit for harsh weather is to clean it up before the extremities come. Clean away debris, including leaves, dust and organic matter. This will prevent pests from setting up homes and reduce the risk of vents becoming blocked or breaking.
  • Perform a Visual Check – Look closely at your AC unit. Can you notice any leaks or cracks in the body? Is there rust anywhere? Noticing these issues early on can make it easier to get the experts in and organise small repairs before the costs escalate. You will also be best preparing your unit for enduring the weather conditions that are on its way.
  • Consider Covering Your Unit – While you want it to remain ventilated, in case it needs to be used during the winter, covering your AC unit can prevent debris, pests and damage. There are specialist covers available that are specifically designed for his purpose.
  • Insulate the Pipework – As with all drainage and heating ducts, it’s important to make sure all external pipework is insulated. If the temperature drops to freezing, the water inside them will freeze and expand. This puts excessive pressure on the pipework, commonly causing it to crack open. You can buy insulation from most standard DIY stores or use duct tape to prevent this from happening.
  • Check Your Unit Regularly – You don’t want to completely ignore your AC unit during the winter. Make sure you check it every week or bi-weekly to make sure no additional damage or debris is impacting its performance.

Book a Post-Winter Service

Air conditioning units work hard – whether that’s all year round or during the summer. This is why it’s important to have them serviced. The same goes for commercial and residential systems – they all require professional checks and services to keep them in full working order. We have a blog post entitled, ‘3 Reasons Why You Should Service Your Air Conditioner’, that discusses energy efficiency, performance and health reasons. And, alongside this, a full yearly service will help you identify minor faults and rectify them early on.

Minimum Operating Temperatures

While many modern air conditioners are designed to help heat and cool a room, others will have a recommended minimum operating temperature provided by the manufacturer. This tends to be somewhere in the region of 15°C/65°F. At temperatures below this, the refrigerant used in AC units will work differently. It won’t effectively lubricate and process the environmental air, and in the long run, this can lead to significant damage – such as frozen coils.

If you do need to test your unit during winter – perhaps to check for a potential fault or at the advice of a professional – wait until the temperature has risen above 15°C for a minimum of 3 days. This will give the refrigerant and oil time to return to a level temperature and reduce the risk of ice in the condenser.

When to Call in the Professionals

AC units are designed to run smoothly in most situations. However, they are specialised machines and require the support of professional and experienced engineers. We always recommend having the contact information for your local HVAC experts on hand, especially if you are more highly dependent on your cooling system. If you notice any issues, such as a poorly working fan, leaks or issues with your condenser coil, the right experience will help to get your unit back on track as quickly as possible.

Here at Controlled Climate, we have over 25 years of trading experience in air conditioners and heat pump systems. With highly skilled engineers specialising in everything from design to installation and servicing, we provide heating and cooling systems to suit every need and requirement. Whether you’re looking to better manage scorching temperatures or keep your home at a comfortable temperature during the Winter, we’re here to help. For more information about using your AC unit over the colder months or to speak to one of our specialist team members, please do get in contact with us here today.