As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the cooler temperatures 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 ought to cover their outdoor AC for the winter.

While it may seem like a smart 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 specialists at Air Service Co. 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 can Handle Snow

Exterior AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These units are built with durable materials and components that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are constructed to resist corrosion, and the housing is manufactured to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.

2. Covered AC Systems may Encourage Mold Growth

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 definitely not what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping 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 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 provide proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clean of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.

3. Your Covered Air Conditioning Unit Can Host Animals

Humans 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 hide out for the cold months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter refuge.

Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable place to get out of the cold weather can block airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.

Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter animals, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from cold weather 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. An AC Cover 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 essential for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and permits the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, leading to greater energy consumption and strain on the components.

In addition, if you run your air conditioner 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, leading to its failure or damage.  That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit has no blockages 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 cooling system than to cover your outside AC unit.

There are a number of key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure the best possible function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove 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 there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would hinder effective heat exchange or airflow.

Routine air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.