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Fall is here and summer is becoming a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore your air conditioner.

Plus, if you plan on putting your home for sale, you need to take proper care of your central air conditioning unit. In addition to ensuring that it will be operating next summer, winterizing your air conditioning is an indication that you’re a person who takes care of their home.

Here’s how to take proper care of your home’s cooling system during the fall and winter.

Turn it Off: Start by switching off the power to your air conditioning unit. If you don’t know where the on/off switch is, look for a lid you can lift, that’s usually where these switches are. You also can turn off the breaker that powers the unit, if the unit is the only thing that breaker supports.

Clear the Area: Remove leaves and twigs from the vents in the air conditioning unit. Then wash away dirt, dead insects, and anything else that is on the unit itself. Next, rake away leaves, twigs and debris away from the area where the unit is located, making sure you clear away the space between the unit and your house. Also take the time to make sure the area underneath the unit is cleared. Leaving sticks around could lead to animals making their winter nest near your unit.

Cover the Unit: If you already have a cover, wash it. Do this on a warmish, sunny day so that you can be certain it dries. (This will also ensure that the unit itself is dry.) Then cover the unit and remember (this is important) that unusually warm days happen, even in winter, but do not turn the air conditioner on while it’s covered.

Winter Maintenance: Check on your air conditioner throughout the winter and remove snow and ice from the top of the unit on a regular basis. Covers, even ones that are secured, can shift during the winter, especially after a storm, so make sure the air conditioner is always properly covered.

Then, when summer returns, you can be certain your house will be kept cool and comfortable by a well-functioning air conditioning system.