As the hot summer sunshine starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Dresden start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. 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 good idea, the truth is there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the specialists at McFadden Heating & Cooling share five reasons why covering your air conditioning equipment 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 winter season. These machines 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 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 winter 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 thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable aroma, but they can also present health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the excess 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 cleared of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals
People 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 cold months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered AC unit can cause several problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable bed can impair airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter creatures, 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 air conditioner in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is crucial for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and enables the unit to cool properly. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on 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, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit has no barriers 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 conditioner than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would prevent efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled 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, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.