As the hot summer sun starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Chadron start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their exterior air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, the truth is there are a number of 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 even cause problems.
Here, the professionals at MPC 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
Outside AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These machines are built with durable materials and parts that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are engineered to resist corrosion, and the housing is designed to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you shouldn’t cover your outdoor air conditioning equipment 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 sealing moisture inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad odor, but they can also create health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the excess moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than covering the unit, instead provide 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
Humans 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 animals, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered air conditioner can cause numerous problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require pricey 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 excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage wildlife, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to pick up and things to repair in the spring.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is vital for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, causing 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 correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit has no barriers and is not covered to maintain optimal 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 cooling system than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure the best possible function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would impede efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.