As the hot summer sun starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Troy start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. 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 great idea, the reality is there are multiple 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 professionals at Edington Heating & Cooling Inc 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
Outside AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These systems are built with durable 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 elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering 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 allowing moisture to collect inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable aroma, 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.
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
Human beings aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to crash for the cold months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Rats 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 home can obstruct airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter animals, because an uncovered AC offers 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. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is vital for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and allows the unit to cool properly. When airflow is reduced, 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 turn on your air conditioner without realizing 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 free from barriers 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 whole lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioning unit than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to promote 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 hinder successful heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.