As the sweltering summer sunshine starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Derby start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their outside air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the fact is there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the experts at Giordanos Heating and Air Conditioning 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 wintertime. These systems are built with solid 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 elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your air conditioner in the cold months is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because allowing moisture to collect inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable odor, but they can also create health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the unwanted 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 clear 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 make plans 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 critters, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered AC unit can cause several problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable bed can impair airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade wildlife, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair once the snow melts.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is vital for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioning without realizing 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, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any 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 outside AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure maximum operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to look at your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would impede successful 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 avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.