As the scorching summer sunshine starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Central Point start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their outside AC for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the fact is there are a number of 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 actually cause problems.
Here, the experts at Titan Heating & Air Conditioning 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 wintertime. These units 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 manufactured to protect the internal components from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your AC unit 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 creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
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.
As an alternative to 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. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals
Humans aren’t the only ones who get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to crash for the wintry months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make nests 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 pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable nest can obstruct airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage animals, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is vital for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and permits the unit to cool properly. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, leading to additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioning without knowing 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 appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any 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 conditioner than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are several key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure optimal operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and pull out any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would impede efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.