As the sweltering summer heat starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Savage start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their outside air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, the reality is there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the experts at Gopher Heating and 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 designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These machines are built with solid materials and parts 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 crafted to protect the internal elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should not cover your air conditioner in the winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping moisture inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad smell, but they can also create health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of covering the unit, instead make sure the unit has 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
Humans aren’t the only ones who make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to crash for the cold months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioning unit can cause several problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable nest can block airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade animals, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your AC—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair in the spring.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason it's better that you don't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is essential for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and allows the unit to cool properly. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, causing increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on your AC without noticing that the outdoor 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 crucial to ensure the outdoor unit is free from barriers 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 a whole lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure maximum function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to look at your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would hinder efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and protects against 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.