As the sweltering summer heat starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Holdrege start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their exterior AC for the winter.

While it may seem like a great idea, the reality is there are a number of 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 sometimes cause problems.

Here, the experts at Durable Service 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 supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These machines are built with sturdy 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 crafted to protect the internal elements from moisture and debris.

2. Covering AC Systems can Encourage Mold

One of the reasons you should not cover your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the wintertime is because doing so can trap moisture—which is definitely not what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because allowing moisture to collect inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.

Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable smell, but they can also present health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the excess 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 clean of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.

3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals

Human beings 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 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 homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered AC unit can cause many problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable home can block airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.

Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade animals, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair once the snow melts.

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 crucial for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and allows the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, resulting in additional energy consumption and strain on the components.

In addition, if you turn on your air conditioning without realizing that the exterior unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the absence of correct 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 free from blockages and is not covered to maintain the best possible airflow.

5. AC Maintenance Offers More Benefits 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 the best possible operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would hinder efficient heat exchange or airflow.

Regular air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and prevents 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.