As the scorching summer sun starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Belton 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 outside air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, the reality is there are several 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 Myers Furnace Company 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
Outside AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. 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 crafted 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 air conditioner in the cold months is because doing so can trap moisture—which is not at all what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping moisture inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable smell, but they can also pose health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, the excess moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of 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 searching 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 nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered AC unit can cause many problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable bed can impair airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade wildlife, 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 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 limits airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, causing additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioning without realizing that the exterior unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the absence of proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing 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 air conditioning unit than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure optimal operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to look at your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would prevent successful 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, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.