In Utah, spring is a season of blooming trees, rapidly growing grass, spring rains, and warming temperatures. All of these can affect your outdoor AC unit. Here are some considerations to make sure the landscaping around your AC unit is ready for spring weather.
The warmer temperatures get, the more likely it is you’ll need to use your AC system. And using the landscaping in your yard to shade the outdoor unit can help improve efficiency when it runs. Shade keeps localized temperatures cooler, meaning the AC system doesn’t work as hard to move heat into the outdoor air.
There are several ways to add shade to your outdoor unit. You can build a fence or plant a hedge, or use a well-placed tree, bush, trellis, or arbor. Placing to the west of the unit provides useful shade as the weather warms up.
When placing a tree or bush in the area around your unit, consider the airflow. If you place a bush farther away from the unit, it will take longer to get large enough to provide shade. But if you place it closer, it may block airflow when it matures.
Reduced airflow can increase energy usage and make your unit more likely to overheat and fail. Keep a space cleared for three feet in every direction around the unit. This space needs to be free of vegetation, solid fences, and anything else that blocks air.
And if you place any trees on the west side of the unit for shade, put them 30 feet from the house and trim branches that hang below six feet. This keeps them from turning into a fire hazard.
Another consideration to remember is the debris trees will create. Many common landscaping trees produce blossoms and other debris such as catkins in the spring.
When these types of debris fall from the branches, will they land in your AC unit or form drifts around its perimeter? If so, be sure to clean things up before the unit starts running regularly so that efficiency isn’t affected. Sweep debris away from the sides of the unit, and switch off the electricity before vacuuming debris out of the inside of the unit.
Groundcover or Mulch
Although you need to make sure tall vegetation doesn’t crowd your AC unit, that doesn’t mean you have to leave bare dirt around the unit either; it’s fine to have short grass (which you’ll need to trim before it reaches six inches in height) or very low-growing ground covers in the area.
If you do have bare dirt in the area, it can become mud in spring rains. It could then splash up onto the coil and fan of the unit and make the unit less efficient. So if your unit has bare dirt around it, make a point to put down some mulch at least. Bark chunks and gravel mulch can be good choices for this area.
Finally, your landscaping needs to allow technicians to get in and access your AC unit for repairs or maintenance. This is critical in spring because you need to have your yearly maintenance visit, ideally before the weather gets warm enough in late spring to start using the AC regularly.
Keeping everything three feet from the unit can help, but easy access has other requirements too. For example, planting a tight hedge all the way around the unit, even if it leaves space for airflow and improves the aesthetics of that area, could make access difficult. And thorny, prickly, spiky plants should be avoided completely in this area.
These considerations will help you prepare your AC unit for whatever the variable weather of spring throws your way. If you’d like to schedule a visit to diagnose a potential HVAC issue, get in touch with Custom Comfort Plumbing, Heating & Cooling LLC to discuss the HVAC servicing and repairs we offer.