It’s no surprise with Missouri’s chaotic weather that you might want to run your air conditioner in the middle of winter. After all, it’s not uncommon for it to be 30 degrees one week and 50 degrees the next week in Missouri. Surely that means you can run your air conditioner in the middle of winter then, right? While you can, we do not recommend it. Running your air conditioner during winter can have costly consequences. In this blog post, we will be discussing how cold weather affects your air conditioner, what happens if you run your air conditioner when it’s cold, and what to do if you already ran your air conditioner when it was cold.
What Happens if You Run Your Air Conditioner When It’s Cold?
Cold weather can affect your air conditioner in several ways. For example, the compressor–an incredibly expensive part that your AC cannot function without–can get damaged. When you turn on your AC during cold weather, the oil, the lubricant for your compressor, will be thickened. To put it into perspective, your compressor is like the heart of your air conditioner system, and the oil is the blood. When there is something wrong with the oil in your system, eventually, the compressor will be damaged because of it.
When the oil is thickened, it is unable to lubricate the compressor causing your compressor to wear and tear in situations when it usually wouldn’t. The longer your AC–your air conditioner–runs during cold weather, the more likely there is damage to your compressor. In “What Causes an AC Compressor to Stop Working,” we discuss how it usually is more cost-effective to replace your entire air conditioner than to replace just your compressor when your compressor goes out. This is because the compressor is an incredibly expensive part of your air conditioner. In that blog post, we also discussed how much a new compressor costs on average according to Home Advisor, which is $1,800. Not only is it because it’s an expensive part of your AC, but when your compressor is damaged, usually it’s not the only part in your air conditioner damaged.
For example, when you run your air conditioner when it’s cold, not only will your AC compressor likely get damaged, but your AC coils may freeze too. If the coils are frozen, there will usually be ice formed around them, and your air conditioner will not blow air. While there are other reasons why your AC coils could freeze, if it’s cold outside, that is likely the main suspect.
All in all, when you run your air conditioner when it’s cold, you risk the chance of it being severely damaged. The cons outweigh the pros, and while it can be tempting to turn on your AC during cold weather, we do not recommend doing so.
What Do Experts Recommend?
You will find a variety of opinions from experts on this topic, but the general consensus is not to run your air conditioner when it is too cold. The risks outweigh the potential benefits of doing so. Most air conditioner manufacturers even go as far as to include a warning–either in the manual or AC itself–not to run an air conditioner when it is too cold. The difficult part is determining what too cold actually means. Is it 30 degrees? 50 degrees? 70 degrees? Some experts say that it is too cold to run an AC when it is 65 degrees or under, while others say you can run your AC until it is 55 degrees or under. To be on the safe side, here at Partney Heating and Cooling, we recommend not running your air conditioner if it is 60 degrees or under.
While this is a general guideline, there are also some things you should consider before turning on your air conditioner:
- Has the weather been below-freezing in the last few days?
- Is there any snow or ice on your air conditioner?
- If you have a thermostat connected to your air conditioner, what temperature is it registering? Is it accurate?
Answering these questions will help you determine if it’s a good idea to run your air conditioner, no matter the weather. If you think there is a possibility your air conditioner may malfunction if you turn it on, then proceed with caution. When in doubt, do not run your air conditioner in unsafe conditions.
What to Do if You Already Ran Your Air Conditioner When It Was Cold
Now, let’s say you already ran your air conditioner when it was cold before you stumbled upon this blog post. Maybe you wanted to run your air conditioner in the winter to test it out before spring, or someone recommended it. A few things may have happened when you tried to run it. If you have a modern air conditioner, it may not have turned on at all. This is because most modern air conditioners have a low-temperature sensor that prevents your AC from turning on when the weather is too cold. If you noticed that your air conditioner didn’t turn on during cold weather, it is likely because its low-temperature sensor picked up how cold it was outside and to prevent damage, did not allow the air conditioner to turn on. If your air conditioner did turn on during the cold weather, it had to work harder in order to keep up with the workload placed on it.
As discussed in the “What Happens If You Run Your Air Conditioner When It’s Cold” section, your compressor may be damaged, and your coils may have frozen. The longer you ran your air conditioner in cold weather, the more likely it was damaged. The best thing you can do is to call an HVAC technician and have them inspect it. If your air conditioner is still running in cold temperatures, turn it off immediately to prevent further damage.
We hope this blog post helped to answer any questions you might have about running your air conditioner when it’s cold. While it is inconvenient, we do not recommend running your air conditioner when it is below 60 degrees. In this blog post, we covered what happens when you run an air conditioner when it’s cold, what experts recommend, and what to do if you already ran your AC when it was cold. If you have any questions after reading this blog post, feel free to leave a comment below. We will do our best to answer it. If you live in Jefferson County or the surrounding areas and need your air conditioner checked, give us a call or fill out the contact form below! Our number is 636-475-9384. We would be happy to assist you with your heating and cooling needs.