As the scorching summer sun starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Tannersville start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their outside air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, the truth is there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Speed Air share five reasons why covering your AC doesn’t need to be on your fall to-do list and what you should do instead.
1. Your AC can Handle Snow
Exterior AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These machines are built with sturdy materials and hardware that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are specially developed to resist corrosion, and the housing is designed to protect the internal elements 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 cold months is because doing so can trap moisture—which is not at all what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because allowing moisture to collect inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant aroma, but they can also pose health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than covering the unit, instead make sure the unit has proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clear of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. Your Covered Air Conditioning Unit Can Host Animals
People aren’t the only ones who make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the winter months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently 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 connections, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable bed can impair airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade creatures, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair once the snow melts.
4. A Winter Cover for AC Units Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is essential for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and allows the unit to cool properly. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your AC without noticing that the exterior unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the lack of appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit is free from barriers and is not covered to maintain maximum 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 outdoor AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure maximum performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would prevent efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.