From fine dining and world-class family attractions to gorgeous, open-air spaces and pristine beaches, San Diego, California is known for many things. Foremost among its defining attributes is its consistently temperate weather. Summer in San Diego isn’t too hot, and winters are almost never freezing cold. In fact, the daytime low rarely falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, if you live in this Southern California city, you probably don’t think much about HVAC winterization at all. However, there are still a few important things that you should do.

1. Clean Up Around Your Outdoor AC or Heat Pump Condenser

In times of severe weather, the most vulnerable component in your HVAC system is your outdoor condenser. Whether you have an air conditioner or a heat pump, you should start winterizing your HVAC equipment by cleaning the area around this unit. Autumn can leave condensers surrounded by colorful mounds of leaves and other debris from seasonal tree fall. It’s better to sweep this debris rather than use a leaf blower. Leaf blowers can force rocks and other small-sized items into the condenser and might damage the coils.

If there are errant toys left-leaning on or around your condenser, move them to another location and encourage kids and other residents to regularly store these in a more acceptable place. Although it doesn’t get windy often in San Diego, it can get windy enough to blow these things over. While air conditioners and heat pump condensers are built tough, it’s best to prevent impact events like these as much as possible.

2. Take Care of Your Trees

In the interest of protecting your outdoor condenser from impact-related damage, you definitely want to take good care of your trees. A surprisingly large amount of winterizing your HVAC system involves caring for things that tower over or directly about its condenser. Having your trees professionally limbed before winter starts will ensure that weak and dying branches are safely taken down. This is far preferable to having them break off unexpectedly.

3. Have Your Roof Inspected

Roof maintenance is also important. Schedule your annual roofing inspection and have loose or damaged shingles and tiles replaced. Not only will this protect both your roofing substrate and the interior of your home from moisture damage, but it will also ensure that these things don’t slide off onto your condenser. This is also a good time to make sure that your gutters and downspouts are securely attached to the building and that they’re free and clear of debris. This way, accumulations of damp, organic matter don’t become so heavy that your gutters actually detach and fall on your condenser.

4. Have Your Air Conditioner Tuned Up

Although summers in San Diego are often just as moderate as winter, your air conditioner probably sees far more use than your heater. Winter is a time to give this unit the extra pampering that it deserves. On your end, you can change out its air filter, and use a damp cloth to wipe down all air vents, grilles, or registers throughout your home.

While most air conditioners only require professional tune-ups once a year, older cooling systems can often benefit from twice-annual service. This includes a comprehensive inspection and tune-up before the start of the cooling season and a quick, yet thorough review once summer has reached its end. Fortunately, this pre-winter check-up can be scheduled at the same time as your annual heater service.

Winter AC inspections and tune-ups are an absolute must if your air conditioner has had a difficult fire season. In fact, the sooner that you schedule AC service after wildfire smoke exposure, the easier it will be to reduce any resulting damage and protect your indoor air quality (IAQ).

4. Have Your Heater Tuned Up

Even if you have a high-end, high-efficiency heater installed in your home, this unit is guaranteed to waste energy if it’s poorly maintained. Although filter changes and a light dusting of its exterior components are things that you can handle yourself, your heater must be professionally tuned up annually. The best time to get the job done is just before the cooling season ends. During service, after we’ve reviewed your air conditioner, we’ll test your heater, clean its internal components, swap out worn parts, and make sure that everything is lubricated, tightened, or otherwise primed to go.

This visit will give us the chance to identify and resolve developing issues in your heating system right away. This way, you won’t spend more money on heating than you should this winter, and your heater won’t malfunction or fail when you actually need it.

5. Schedule HVAC Air Duct Cleaning

For central HVAC systems, professional air duct cleaning is important as well. This service should be performed about once every three years. However, you’ll need to schedule duct cleaning more often if you have indoor pets or residents with chronic respiratory issues. You should definitely schedule duct cleaning if you’ve recently used your HVAC system during times of heavy smoke from local wildfires. Getting rid of built-up debris and contaminants in your HVAC air ducts will minimize the impact that they have on your IAQ. During winter, you’re more likely to keep your home sealed up tight. Thus, maintaining a high IAQ is never more important.

6. Practice Diligent Pest Prevention

Although slightly cooler temperatures won’t have much of an impact on your HVAC system, they will have an impact on all four- and six-legged critters that live directly in them. In San Diego, common residential pests during winter include:

  • Fleas
  • Spiders
  • Crickets
  • Ticks

While these insects are abundantly present during spring and summer, winter is when they’ll attempt to shelter in your home. Unfortunately, your HVAC system could be the easiest way in.

The best way to keep insects away from and out of your HVAC system is by making it as unappealing as possible. Make sure that there are no standing pools of water by your outdoor AC unit, and establish a regular plan for clearing away loose, organic debris. Clearing the condenser’s perimeter isn’t a one-off task during the cold season. With leaves changing colors and falling, dry tree branches and twigs constantly breaking off, and organic debris blowing over from neighboring yards, this area can get dirty in no time. These materials make excellent hiding, breeding, and living spaces for many insects. For others, as they decay, they become a viable source of food. Getting rid of built-up debris in a timely fashion could prevent the need to treat a major infestation later on.

If you live near active construction or if you have neighbors with pest problems, rodents may be a concern as well. Rats, mice, squirrels, and raccoons may attempt to enter your home through unsealed vents, ragged ductwork, and other possible points of entry. In San Diego, bats can be problematic too. When we service your HVAC equipment, we can check for potential openings and seal them off. We can also make sure that common hiding places such as the AC condenser are free and clear.

It’s also a good idea to move all outdoor storage bins away from your condenser. This includes your:

  • Garbage bin
  • Compost bin
  • Recycling bin

If your AC or heat pump condenser is stored in your side yard, move these bins to the opposite side yard. If you have an outdoor kitchen, be sure to get rid of all grease residues and anything else that unwanted guests might find inviting. Finally, if you collect and retain empty bottles or aluminum cans separate from your normal recycling, go ahead and turn these in. The sugary residues inside these containers can be incredibly appealing to pests.

At Friar's Heating and Air, we’ve been proudly serving residents of San Diego, CA since 1989. We offer heating, cooling, and solar installation, maintenance, and repair services. We also provide ductwork, HVAC zoning, and cutting-edge indoor air quality solutions. Give us a call today!

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