As the sweltering summer sunshine starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Fredericksburg start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. 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 smart idea, in reality there are several reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Childress Heating & AC 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 built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These systems are built with solid materials and components that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are engineered 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 not cover your air conditioner in the wintertime 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 aroma, but they can also create health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the excess moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of covering the unit, instead ensure proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clean of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals
You and your family aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to live for the wintry months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an ideal 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 connections, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable bed can impair airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter creatures, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair once the snow melts.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason it's better that you don't cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is essential for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and allows the unit to cool properly. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, resulting in additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioner without noticing that the exterior 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, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit has no obstructions 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 conditioner than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure the best possible function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would impede effective heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled 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, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.