As the sweltering summer heat starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Thedford 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 good idea, the fact is there are several reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Taylor's 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. Your AC Unit Isn’t Damaged by Snow
Exterior AC units are supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These units are built with solid 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 crafted to protect the internal elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should not cover your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the cold months is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping moisture inside the unit produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant smell, but they can also create 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 free of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals
Human beings aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to live for the winter months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered AC unit can cause many problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable bed can obstruct airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage creatures, because an uncovered AC provides 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 when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is crucial for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and allows the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, leading to additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your AC without noticing 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 appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is vital to ensure the outdoor unit is free from obstructions and is not covered to maintain the best possible 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 exterior AC unit.
There are several key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure maximum function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would hinder successful heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only enhances 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 approach that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.