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How to Properly Store an Air Conditioner for the Winter

Lili removes and stores her AC every year once the temperatures hit 60 degrees. Doing this has kept her AC working for 10 years.

There's a right way and a wrong way!

There's a right way and a wrong way!

Is It OK to Leave an AC in the Window During Winter?

Unless you live in a climate that's hot year-round, you should remove your air conditioner and store it properly for the winter. If you don't, you'll be leaving it exposed to freezing temperatures and rain or snow, which will damage the body and the inside parts.

When to Take the AC Out of Your Window

To avoid buying a new air conditioning unit next year, take the AC down from your window once temperatures go below 60°F, and store it properly using the tips below.

How to Remove and Store Your AC for the Winter

  1. Unplug the AC
  2. Place some towels on the floor beneath the window
  3. Remove the AC Unit from the window with a friend's help
  4. Take your AC unit outdoors for cleaning
  5. Remove and clean the filter
  6. Clean the condenser coils and water pan
  7. Clean the exterior of the AC
  8. Store the unit in an upright position
  9. Store the air conditioner in the utility room or basement

Read below for in-depth instructions on how to perform each of these steps, along with helpful tips to save you time and money.

1. Unplug the AC

Make sure to unplug the unit before attempting to remove the AC.

2. Place Some Towels on the Floor Beneath the Window

Put a towel or a large cloth on the floor. This is to absorb the water that may leak from the unit, especially if it has been recently used.

3. Remove the AC Unit From the Window

Unless you're Superman, NEVER remove an air conditioner all by yourself. You'll need an extra hand or two: someone to lift the AC from the window and someone to hold the window open.

Once the air conditioner is free from the grips of the window, tilt it back away from you and outside the window just a little to drain any water that may be inside. Be sure no one is underneath the window, or they will get wet and curse you.

Tip: Wear gripped gloves and closed-toe shoes.

Remove the side panels and wipe them down with a wet rag and some vinegar.

Remove the side panels and wipe them down with a wet rag and some vinegar.

4. Take Your AC Unit Outdoors for Cleaning

You are going to need to hose down the AC, which is best done outside. If going outside is not possible, take your AC into the tub.

Note: It is perfectly fine to spray down the AC with water. You will not damage any of the electric parts.

5. Remove and Clean the Filter

As soon as you remove the air conditioning unit, remove the filter. The filter is the dirtiest part of an air conditioner as it catches dust and particles present in the air.

To clean the filter:

  1. Place it under running water or hose it down.
  2. Brush away caked-on dirt and dust with a hard-bristled brush or toothbrush.
  3. Add some soap if the dirt is stubborn.
  4. Cleanse thoroughly with water.
  5. To kill bacteria and allergens, soak the filter in equal parts water and vinegar for at least an hour.
  6. Let the filter dry thoroughly while you clean the rest of the AC.

6. Clean the Condenser Coils and Water Pan

  1. Remove the front part of the AC and the cover.
  2. Spray the coils down with a mixture of water and a few drops of soap.
  3. Brush the condenser coil to loosen up dirt and dust.
  4. Spray it down with a hose until all particles are removed.
  5. Wash the water pan with soap and water.
  6. Allow everything to dry thoroughly.

7. Clean the Exterior of the AC

To clean the outside, you can:

  1. Using a moist rag, sponge, or microfiber cloth to wipe the exterior of the unit
  2. Spray it down with a hose and use a rag or brush to remove stubborn dirt.

For step-by-step photo instructions on how to clean a window AC unit, check out How to Clean a Window Air Conditioning Unit.

8. Store the Air Conditioner in a Box in a Cool, Dry Room

When buying a new unit, it would be wise not to throw the box away. The original packaging is the best storage container you can get for your unit. It should be packed neatly and tightly to prevent bugs and insects from making a home inside the unit and to prevent rodents from chewing up and damaging the wires.

Storing it in a utility closet or storage room is best, but if you need to store the unit in the garage, place it on a raised platform or block so auto fluid and other corrosive chemicals cannot easily seep into the base of the air conditioner and damage it.

9. Store the Unit in an Upright Position

This is to ensure that the oil remains evenly distributed and settled. Never store the AC on its side or its back, as this can damage the compressor. If it cannot be helped that the unit will be stored on its side, make sure to let it rest in the upright position for more than an hour before using it again so that the oil can resettle.

Tips for Storing Your Air Conditioner

  • Keep it away from other objects. Clear the storage area, especially the nearby shelves, to prevent objects from falling on the air conditioning unit. It can damage the coils or cause bigger damage if heavier objects fall on it.
  • Store it in a corner with low traffic. In limited spaces and small apartments, owners store their air conditioners by covering and packing it carefully and using it as a side table. It can be placed in corners or areas with less traffic to prevent any unnecessary damage or impact to the unit.
  • Get a winterizing cover. Some air conditioning units are very difficult to take out, especially if it is mounted high. In this case, you can use a winterizing cover instead. It will protect your AC unit from the freezing temperature. It will also protect the unit from debris, dirt, and insects. When buying a winterizing cover, make sure to measure it carefully so it is snug and fit. It will help if you put some insulating foam around your AC unit before putting the winterizing cover on.

Keep It in Tip-Top Shape for Next Year!

We can only realize the importance of an air conditioner when summertime comes. Sometimes, we tend to take our air conditioning unit for granted, especially during colder months. However, just like any other appliance, the AC should also be taken care of so they would last longer. Proper storage and regular cleaning are two of the most essential things you can do to ensure that your AC unit will be in tip-top shape for the next summer season.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Gregory Monachos from Thessaloniki Greece on October 04, 2015:

Very useful article, although i think it is not intended for the non-technician. It would be very difficult for an amateur to make all these works properly.