As the scorching summer sunshine starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Norton start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their exterior air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, in reality there are multiple 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 specialists at HCE Systems share five reasons why covering your air conditioning equipment 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 systems are built with sturdy materials and components that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are constructed 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 outdoor air conditioning equipment 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 allowing moisture to collect inside the unit produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad smell, but they can also create health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, 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
You and your family aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the cold months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered air conditioning unit can cause numerous problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, 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, lowering the efficiency of the appliance 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 clean up and things to repair when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is essential for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, resulting in additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on your AC 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 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 has no 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 a lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure the best possible operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would impede successful heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.