As the hot summer sun starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Safford start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outside air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the truth is there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the experts at B&D Air Conditioning 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 winter. These units 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 manufactured to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the cold months 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 smell, but they can also create health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, 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 clean 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 prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to live for the cold months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioner can cause numerous problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable bed can block airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter creatures, 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 clean up and things to repair in the spring.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason it's better that you don't cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it helps with 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 additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioner without realizing that the outdoor 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, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any 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 a whole lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance activities 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 remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would impede efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases 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 substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.