As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Branchville start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their outdoor air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, in reality there are a number of 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 experts at Willco Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Heating Inc. 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 supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These systems are built with durable materials and hardware 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 parts 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 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 produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant odor, but they can also present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the excess 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 free 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 get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also looking for a warm, cozy place to live for the cold months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioning unit can cause many problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable bed can impair airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage creatures, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to pick up and things to repair when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason it's better that you don't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and allows the unit to cool properly. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, resulting in greater energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run 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 appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit is free from obstructions 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 conditioning unit than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are several key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would prevent effective 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 protects against 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.