As the sweltering summer heat starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Holdrege start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outside air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, the fact 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 even cause problems.
Here, the experts at Durable Service share five reasons why covering your air conditioning equipment 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 systems are built with durable 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 designed to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should not cover your AC unit in the cold months is because doing so can trap moisture—which is not at all what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping moisture inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant aroma, but they can also create health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the excess moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than 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
You and your family aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the winter months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioning unit can cause many problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable bed can obstruct airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade animals, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—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 you shouldn't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is crucial for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and allows the unit to cool efficiently. 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 run your air conditioner without knowing that the outside 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, 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 maximum airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's a lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioning unit than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to promote 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 successful 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 avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.