As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Swanton start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their exterior air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, in reality there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the experts at Northwest Services 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
Outdoor AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. 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 specially developed to resist corrosion, and the housing is crafted 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 wintertime 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 produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad odor, but they can also pose health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of covering the unit, instead ensure 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
You and your family aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to live for the cold months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioning unit can cause numerous problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable nest can impair airflow and ventilation, limiting the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter animals, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—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 it's better that you don't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is vital for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and allows the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, resulting in greater energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioner without realizing that the outside 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 always cleared of any obstructions 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 outside AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance tasks 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 remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would prevent effective heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.