As the scorching summer sun starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Huntsville start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their outdoor air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, in reality there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the professionals at All Weather Heating & Air Conditioning Inc 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 built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These units are built with durable materials and hardware 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 designed 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 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 sealing moisture inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad odor, but they can also pose 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 provide 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 make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the wintry months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing 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 create a warm and comfortable bed can obstruct airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade animals, 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 clean up and things to repair in the spring.
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 limits airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is vital for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and allows the unit to cool properly. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, causing greater energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on your air conditioner without noticing that the outdoor unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the absence of correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is vital to ensure the outdoor unit has no barriers and is not covered to maintain optimal airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's much more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioner than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are several key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and pull out any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would impede successful heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.