As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Greensburg start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outdoor AC for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the truth is there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Wallpe Heating & Cooling 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
Outdoor AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These units are built with sturdy materials and components that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are engineered to resist corrosion, and the housing is crafted to protect the internal components from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your air conditioner in the wintertime is because doing so can trap moisture—which is not at all what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because sealing moisture inside the unit produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad odor, but they can also create health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than 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 get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to crash for the winter months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make homes 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 create a warm and comfortable nest can impair airflow and ventilation, limiting the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade creatures, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—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 you shouldn't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is essential for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool properly. When airflow is constrained, 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 use your air conditioner without knowing that the outside unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the shortage of appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any blockages and is not covered to maintain maximum 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 conditioning unit than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure optimal function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and pull out any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, check 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.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.