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3 Reasons Your AC Might Fail Over The Winter

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If the snow is falling outside your house, you probably aren't thinking about your air conditioner too much. Unfortunately, your AC isn't invulnerable just because temperatures drop. Even though you aren't using your system in the winter, it's not unheard of to find that it doesn't function as well (or at all) once summer returns.

But, why would a system that's sat unused all winter suddenly stop working? This problem can be even more baffling if you typically cut power to your unit for the cold months. Keep reading for three potential answers to this mystery.

1. Slow Refrigerant Leak

Your air conditioner relies on refrigerant to keep your home cool. The refrigerant in your system transports heat from your interior environment to the outside, providing you with comfortable and cold air in the process. You shouldn't usually need to think about your refrigerant or add more to the system, but a leak can through a wrench into the works.

If you have a slow refrigerant leak, your system may continue to work for a while. You may even notice a drop in temperature since lower refrigerant pressure at the evaporator can reduce the system's operating temperature. When this happens, the system will continue to leak even when turned off, potentially causing it to stop working at all if the refrigerant level drops low enough over the winter.

2. Physical Damage

Your condenser (sometimes called the "outside" unit) is weather-resistant but not weatherproof. This durable part of your air conditioning system needs to withstand everything from rain to hail to months of snow cover. Surprisingly, these weather-related threats aren't typically a problem, and you don't need to keep your condenser unit covered through the winter.

However, physical damage is still a possibility. Debris from storms or even falling icicles can find its way into the top of the condenser unit through the fan grill. These impacts can potentially damage the condenser fan, ultimately preventing the system from running. While a cover isn't necessary, you should always inspect your condenser for signs of damage before turning it on in the summer.

3. Dirty Filter

If your home uses forced-air heating, you have a single filter shared between your air conditioner and furnace. As a result, the filter may become dirty and clogged over the winter. A dirty filter will affect the performance of your heating and cooling system, and a severe clog may reduce airflow over your evaporator coil enough to cause it to freeze.

The best way to avoid this problem is to check and change your filter regularly. Replace intervals range from every month to every year, depending on the type of filter and thickness. A clogged filter can overwork your air conditioning system and cause costly damage, so routine changes keep your system running and save you money.

For more information on air conditioning repair, contact a professional near you.