As the hot summer sun starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Alice start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their outside air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the reality is there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Rescue Heating & Air 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 designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These systems are built with sturdy materials and parts that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are constructed 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 avoid covering your air conditioner in the cold months 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 produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant aroma, but they can also present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, 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
Humans aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also looking for a warm, cozy place to crash for the winter months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered air conditioner can cause numerous problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable place to get out of the cold weather can impair airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage animals, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from the elements 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 not to cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is vital for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and permits the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is severely limited, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, resulting in additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use 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 shortage of proper 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 optimal airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's much more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure optimal function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and pull out any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would prevent 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 prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing 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.