If your home has a separate air conditioning unit, then chances are it won't see much use throughout the winter. Unfortunately, a dormant air conditioner can make for a rather cozy place for rodents, birds and other small creatures to seek refuge in as temperatures drop. Nesting critters can leave behind chewed insulation, damaged wiring and a host of other unpleasant and rather expensive surprises.
Here are a few tips you can use to keep your A/C critter-free throughout the winter:
Give Your A/C Some Cover
Your outdoor A/C cabinet's condenser fan vent offers a tempting entry point for many small animals. The best way to shut off this open avenue is by covering it with a large piece of plywood. You'll also want to place something heavy on top of it, such as a cinder block or a brick, so that it doesn't go anywhere. Most critters won't be able to remove the block or lift up the plywood, so it should work in most cases.
You could also choose to cover your outdoor A/C cabinet, but you should also be careful when going this route. Choose a mesh cover that allows for adequate airflow to keep moisture from accumulating within the cabinet. It'll also prevent the cabinet from being warm and cozy enough for small animals to make a nest in.
Keep Your Indoor A/C Closet Clean
It's not just your outdoor A/C cabinet that could prove a tempting habitat for small creatures. The utility closet that holds the indoor portion of your central A/C system could also become a rest haven for rodents, especially if it's also used to store old clothes, papers and various sundries—which could be used by rodents as nesting material.
When it comes to your utility closet, cleanliness is the name of the game. Make sure you remove any and all debris from around the indoor cabinet. You may also want to place rodent traps around the unit, just in case you do have an unwanted visitor.
Also, resist the temptation to store anything in your utility closet. Not only does it offer rodents and easy way of gathering nesting material, but it also presents a serious fire hazard.
Consider Storing Your Window A/C Indoors
Keep in mind that many window-mounted air conditioning systems are designed to be removed and stored if they won't be used for long periods. If you're not going to use your window A/C unit for the next few months, then consider bringing it inside. There are still a few easy things you'll want to do in preparation, however:
When storing your window A/C unit, make sure it's kept in a relatively dry storage area (that means basements are a no-go). Don't forget to toss in a silica gel pack or two inside the container, box or trash bag it's being kept in, so you won't have any moisture problems during its time in storage.
A few years ago, I could tell that we were having serious furnace problems. In addition to dealing with a house that was constantly too cold or too warm, we were also plagued by a noisy, smelly furnace that seemed to have trouble on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I didn't know enough about furnaces at the time to spot the problems quickly. One day, the entire system died, and it was beyond repair. After having that experience, I learned a lot about HVAC systems, so that I could troubleshoot future systems. This website is all about teaching you what you need to know so that you don't end up in the same situation.