Why Shouldn’t We Test AC Units in the Winter?

Many of our Naperville customers have been asking us when they can test their AC units. They keep asking, “Why shouldn’t we test AC units in the winter?” Learn more about the hazards of testing your AC unit in winter here, what happens if you run your AC in winter, and when you should test your AC unit. Then, if you have questions, contact your Chicagoland home inspection service, the BrickKicker. We’re always happy to help!

Why Test Your AC in Warm Weather?

Most air conditioning manufacturers and HVAC professionals agree an outdoor condensing unit should not be run in cold weather for any reason at any time. The reason is that the oil used to lubricate the compressor does not lubricate well when it’s cold. The lubricant in a home air conditioner is not unlike the lubricant in your car. There are different grades, like summer-weight and winter-weight. The summer-weight oil used in the standard air conditioner is a heavier oil grade and only works well during warmer weather conditions. In cold weather, the oil is too thick for safe operation of the AC system.

What Temperature is Too Cold For Air Conditioners?

When it comes to testing AC in winter, you may be wondering what temperature is too cold for air conditioners? Most HVAC technicians and home inspectors refuse to operate the central air conditioner unless the daytime temperatures are well above 65 degrees for a minimum of 24 hours. So when should you test your AC Unit? Wait to test and use your air conditioner only between May through September.

Are There Any Exemptions?

Now that you know why you shouldn’t test AC units in the winter, you might be wondering if there are any exceptions to these guidelines. The only exception to waiting for warmer weather to test your AC unit would be for those units with a crankcase or sump heater. These have a heating strip placed around the compressor and oil reservoir that help keep it warm and moving, but it’s still best to wait. There are even some more sophisticated units, with low-ambient temperature sensors that prevent cold weather operation.

What Happens If You Run Your AC in Winter?  

As we mentioned earlier, when you run your AC in the winter, your oil can become far too thick as its molecules compress in the cold. This makes it difficult for the oil to circulate and your compressor to overheat. This could cause a perfectly good AC unit to fail, so the risk isn’t worth it. A much more energy efficient way to cool down your Aurora home in the winter is to simply open the window and let some of the cold air into the house.

The BrickKicker is Always at Your Service

If you don’t know if you have a crankcase heater, or you don’t know if your unit has a thinner grade of oil, it’s best to avoid testing your AC in winter. Please do not operate your central air conditioner until the temperature is over 65 degrees for at least 24 hours. The risks are too high. Running a unit at that temperature could cause significant damage to a perfectly good operating unit. Now that you know what happens if you run your AC in winter and when you should test your AC unit, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to schedule a home inspection. We are always ready to help! If you have other questions related to home care, be sure to explore our blog for dozens of other helpful reads about problems to look out for, DIY home care tips, and home inspection service intervals!