As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Lafayette start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their outside air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, the fact is there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the specialists at AC Sales 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 supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These units are built with sturdy 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 components from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should not cover 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 trapping moisture inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad smell, but they can also present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the excess moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than covering the unit, instead make sure the unit has proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clean 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 prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the winter months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered AC unit can cause several problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable home can impair airflow and ventilation, lowering 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 animals, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—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 it's better that you don't cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is vital for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool properly. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, resulting in additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your AC without realizing that the outdoor 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, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit is free from blockages 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 lots more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioner than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would hinder successful heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing 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.