As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of West Valley City start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their outside air conditioner 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. Along with not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the experts at Select Comfort Systems 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
Exterior AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These machines are built with sturdy materials and parts 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 crafted to protect the internal elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you shouldn’t cover your AC unit 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 aroma, but they can also pose health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
As an alternative to covering the unit, instead ensure 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
Humans aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to crash for the winter months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner 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 place to get out of the cold weather can block airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage wildlife, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to pick up and things to repair once the snow melts.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is vital for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and allows the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on 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, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit is free from blockages and is not covered to maintain optimal airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's a whole lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioning unit than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure maximum performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would prevent efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.