As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Rockford start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their exterior AC for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the truth is there are several reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Temperature Doctors Heating & Cooling 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
Exterior AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These systems are built with durable 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 manufactured to protect the internal elements 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 winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because sealing moisture inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable aroma, but they can also pose health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of 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
You and your family aren’t the only ones who make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to crash for the wintry months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered AC unit can cause several problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable home can impair airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage animals, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from the elements 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 it's better that you don't cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is essential for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is severely limited, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, causing greater energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on your air conditioner without noticing that the exterior unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the shortage of proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any obstructions 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 a whole lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are several key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure optimal function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to look at your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, small branches 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 prevent successful heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.