5 Reasons to Not Cover Your Air Conditioner for Winter
Feb 23, 2024
As the sweltering summer heat starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Warrenton start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their outside air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, in reality there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Schraer Heating & Air Conditioning 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 can Handle Snow
Outdoor AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These units are built with sturdy materials and hardware that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are engineered to resist corrosion, and the housing is crafted to protect the internal components from moisture and debris.
2. Covered AC Systems may Encourage Mold Growth
One of the reasons you should not cover your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the winter 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 present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
As an alternative to covering the unit, instead make sure the unit has proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clear of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. Your Covered Air Conditioning Unit Can Host Animals
Human beings aren’t the only ones who make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also looking for a warm, cozy place to live for the winter months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable nest can impair airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade animals, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair when winter is over.
4. A Winter Cover for AC Units Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is vital for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and permits the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, causing additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your AC 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 lack of appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary 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 lots more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioner than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would prevent effective heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.