As the hot summer heat starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Warrenton start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their exterior air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, in reality there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Schraer Heating & Air Conditioning share five reasons why covering your air conditioner doesn’t need to be on your fall to-do list and what you should do instead.
1. Your AC Unit Isn’t Damaged by Snow
Outside AC units are supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These units are built with durable materials and parts that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are constructed to resist corrosion, and the housing is manufactured to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your air conditioner in the winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is not at all what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping moisture inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad aroma, but they can also present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of covering the unit, instead provide proper drainage and keep the area around the unit cleared of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals
Human beings aren’t the only ones who get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also looking for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the wintry months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered AC unit can cause many problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable bed can obstruct airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter creatures, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is vital for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and permits the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, causing additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioning without noticing that the outside unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the absence of appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is vital to ensure the outdoor unit is free from obstructions and is not covered to maintain the best possible airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's lots more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and pull out any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would hinder successful heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.