As the scorching summer sun starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Central Point start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their outdoor air conditioner for the winter.

While it may seem like a great idea, the reality is there are several 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 professionals at Titan Heating & Air Conditioning 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. Snow won't Hurt Your AC

Outdoor AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. 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 manufactured to protect the internal elements from moisture and debris.

2. Covering AC Systems can Encourage Mold

One of the reasons you shouldn’t cover your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the wintertime is because doing so can trap moisture—which is not at all 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 flourish.

Mold and mildew not only have a bad odor, but they can also pose health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.

Instead of covering the unit, instead provide proper drainage and keep the area around the unit free of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.

3. Your Covered Air Conditioning Unit Can Host 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 hide out for the winter months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter dwelling.

Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioner can cause numerous problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable bed can impair airflow and ventilation, limiting the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.

Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade animals, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your AC—and leaves you with less mess to pick up and things to repair in the spring.

4. An AC Cover Restricts Airflow

Another reason it's better that you don't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption and strain on the components.

In addition, if you run your air conditioning 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 correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage.  That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit has no blockages and is not covered to maintain maximum airflow.

5. AC Maintenance Is More Effective 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 outdoor AC unit.

There are several key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure optimal function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to look at your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would impede successful heat exchange or airflow.

Routine air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and protects against 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.