As the sweltering summer sun starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Payson start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outdoor air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the fact is there are several 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 even cause problems.
Here, the experts at North Mechanical Heating and Cooling 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 Unit Isn’t Damaged by Snow
Outdoor AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These machines are built with sturdy materials and parts 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 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 allowing moisture to collect inside the unit produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad odor, but they can also present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than covering the unit, instead ensure proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clear 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 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 creatures, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause several problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable bed can block airflow and ventilation, limiting the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade wildlife, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—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 not to cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and allows the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is severely limited, 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 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 absence of correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any 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 lots more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioning unit than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure maximum performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove 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 efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.