As the sweltering summer sunshine starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Muldrow start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their exterior air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, the truth is there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Air Service Co. 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
Outside AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These machines are built with durable materials and hardware that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are constructed 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 AC unit 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 creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant aroma, but they can also present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
As an alternative to covering the unit, instead ensure 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 get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to crash for the cold months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioning unit 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 create a warm and comfortable place to get out of the cold weather can impair airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter wildlife, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from cold weather 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. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is essential for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is severely limited, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, causing additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your AC without knowing that the outside 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, resulting in 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 much more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioner than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure optimal function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and pull out any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, check 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.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting 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.