As the hot summer sunshine starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Eastland start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. 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, the reality is there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the professionals at J & J Air Conditioning 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 Unit Isn’t Damaged by Snow
Outdoor AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These systems are built with solid materials and components 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 manufactured to protect the internal components from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the wintertime is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of 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 flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad smell, but they can also create health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the excess 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
People aren’t the only ones who get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to live for the cold months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioner can cause numerous problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable nest can obstruct airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter animals, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason it's better that you don't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is vital for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on your air conditioning 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 proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any 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 much more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioner than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure maximum operation 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, twigs and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would prevent effective heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.