HVAC system outdoor units are made to take a beating, but that doesn’t mean that the elements can’t cause some serious damage. Snow and ice are particularly brutal on HVAC systems, but you can help protect your unit. Here are a few tips for protecting your HVAC system from snow and ice.

Snow and ice buildup. When your unit is surrounded by snow and ice, it’s possible that your system will freeze and shut down. As a result, your home’s heating system will turn off and your water pipes could be damaged.

Blocking the exhaust. Snow can interfere with your furnace’s output, which can result in your unit malfunctioning or, worse, releasing hazardous gases like carbon monoxide into your house. Most furnaces have a safety switch that will shut them down if there’s an obstruction.

Damage to your outdoor unit. Icicles that build up on top of your outdoor HVAC unit can fall and damage your system. This damage can be quite severe, necessitating a costly replacement.

Ventilation blockage and leakage. A buildup of snow and ice can obstruct airflow, causing your heating system to malfunction. Furthermore, this buildup can cause your pipes to leak and malfunction.

How to Deal With Ice Buildup

If you notice ice buildup on your air conditioner, the very first thing you should do is turn your air conditioner off and, if possible, turn the fan on. For relatively light ice buildup, this should help unthaw your air conditioner within an hour or two.

If there’s heavy ice buildup, then you’ll need to break out a household hair dryer and open up the access panel to the evaporator coil. Set the hair dryer on its highest setting and go over the frozen coil, making sure not to linger on one spot for too long. If you happen to have a heat gun on hand, you can use this instead of the hair dryer as long as you have it set on a medium setting.

How to Prevent Ice Buildup

The best way to prevent ice buildup on your air conditioner is by regularly changing your filter and keeping it clean. If your furnace filter is clean, there is a chance that your evaporator coil may be clogged with dirt, hair, etc. If you have never had this cleaned in the past, it may be time.

Schedule A Furnace Maintenance Appointment

Your annual heater inspection and cleaning are important for many reasons, and there is no good reason to wait for the last moment to get it done. In fact, when you really think about it, it makes much more sense to do it long before it starts to get cold outside. Schedule your annual furnace maintenance early, and you can save time, money, and possibly a whole lot of stress.

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