As the scorching summer sunshine starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Kearney start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their exterior AC for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, in reality there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning 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 supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These machines are built with solid materials and parts 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 elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is definitely not what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because allowing moisture to collect 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 present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, 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 clean 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 get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to live for the wintry months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable nest can obstruct airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter wildlife, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your AC—and leaves you with less mess to pick up and things to repair once the snow melts.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is crucial for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and permits the unit to cool properly. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your air conditioning without realizing that the outside unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the lack 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 is free from 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 air conditioner than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are several key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible 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 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 successful heat exchange or airflow.
Routine 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 approach that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.