As the scorching summer sunshine starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Pacheco 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 conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, the fact is 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 sometimes cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Clean Air HVAC 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
Exterior AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These units are built with durable materials and components 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 components from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your AC unit in the winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is definitely not 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 an unpleasant aroma, but they can also create health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
As an alternative to covering the unit, instead provide proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clean 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 prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to crash for the winter months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered AC unit can cause numerous problems. Rats 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 block airflow and ventilation, limiting the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade wildlife, 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 pick up and things to repair once the snow melts.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is essential for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and permits the unit to cool properly. 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 realizing that the outdoor 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 obstructions and is not covered to maintain optimal 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 air conditioner than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, examine 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.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only enhances 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.