As the sweltering summer sun starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Rio Grande Valley start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their outdoor air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the fact is there are several reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the experts at Cytech Heating & Cooling L.C. 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
Outside AC units are supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These machines 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 designed 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 AC unit 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 flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad aroma, but they can also pose health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the excess 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 clear 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 live for the cold months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered AC unit can cause numerous problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable bed can block airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage creatures, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to throw away 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 air conditioner in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and permits the unit to cool effectively. 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 turn on your air conditioning without knowing 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 correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit is free from blockages 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 air conditioner than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure the best possible operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would prevent efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.